There was a study done that showed a group of ten year olds outperformed adults in a comprehension test. The adults read faster but also skim read in order to absorb information. This is a natural outcome in our having to learn to process huge volumes of information at quick speeds so we learn to pick up the essence of the document rather than the details. The children comparatively were found to read at face value and absorbed the salient points as a result.
This isn’t just true of reading. The older we get the more we do this in all aspects of our lives. Case in point, the conversation that ensued near my desk a week ago.
‘So we will upload the documents next week.’
‘Yes, okay but you need to speak to X because I’m away for the next two weeks after this.’
‘Oh… so you won’t be doing the upload?’
‘No, X is the stand in, you need to make sure she knows what you need before I leave. I’m checking coverage for when I’m gone.’
‘Okay. What if we do it the following Monday then. It can wait.’
‘Yes but I’m still not here the following Monday, you still need to speak to X’.
‘But won’t you be back from holidays then?’
‘No, I said I was going away for two weeks.’
‘But that will be two weeks later.’
‘That’ll be two weeks from TODAY. I’m still here. I’m only going away next week, see, that’s why I’m in the office still.’
‘Oh. So when are you away again?’
And of course, sometimes it’s just the two combined. England has what they refer to as ‘Poundshops’ which have big signs on the front saying ‘everything a pound’. They are a bonanza of random rubbish, it is sometimes amazing what you can find in there for a pound. The BBC has a documentary following a chain of these stores. The guy in the introduction sums it up when he says ‘Believe it or not, the most commonly asked question I get asked here is ‘How much is it’ – in a POUNDS shop.’