Read it a second time. Really.

Reading comprehension is one of my strengths. I was always good at it (and listening comprehension) at school, even in foreign languages I was otherwise not good at. These days, I’m good at critically reading texts to see what they really say, even when most people get it wrong due to things such as the text’s deceitfulness, attitude problem, or lack of clarity. I’ve seen examples like this again and again, where I’m the one explaining what it really meant and not proven wrong.

So I’m unusually good at it. But you know what? I still find sometimes that when I read something a second time, I notice I got it wrong the first time — misinterpreted some attitude, some nuance, the real overall point, what have you. Just the kind of things I find others missing more easily than I do. Actually half of my being so good at it is only possible (not necessarily solely caused by but made possible) because I do look a second time, if perhaps not often enough.

My message this time is simple: If at all possible and if at all important, and especially when you’re responding or referring to it, read a text a second time first. Bias and carelessness affects one’s reading so much that it can be kind of ridiculous. There are all kinds of other aspects to critically evaluating a text, but this is the simplest one, and not unimportant.

(Of course, the most basic strategy of this sort is reading it even once before assuming you know what it’s saying. Unfortunately, that’s also something people fail to do.)