Audiobooks: is listening the same as reading? Reddit debate

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A netizen has sparked a furious reaction with a harsh assessment of one of the most common hobbies.

Is listening to an audiobook the same as reading?

Not according to an internet troll, who has sparked outrage among audiophiles with a blunt assessment comparing their popular pastime to a “toddler” being read a book by his mother.

“Listening to an audiobook is not reading”, user wrote in a post on Reddit’s “Unpopular Opinion” forum.

“Far too often, people who brag about having ‘read’ 200 to 300 books a year actually listen to mostly audio books. an audio book is not reading It is listening to someone read a book for you – it is not reading it yourself Reading requires active involvement on your part – listening is something passive that can be done while doing other things.

They added: “It’s like saying that a toddler who has a book read to him by his mother has actually read it – which is nonsense.”

The controversial opinion drew more than 6,000 comments, with many people defending their hobby.

“I have dyslexia and reading can be a hell of a chore for me,” one user wrote. “I agree that it’s not the same as reading a paper book, but the fact that I can listen and get information (especially while driving, running and doing chores) has been amazing I’ve listened to books that there’s no way I could have read to the end.

Another said: ‘Your premise seems to be that the number of books someone has read is primarily a demonstration of their ability to read. A person who is comfortable with their reading ability might instead think it is more important to acquire the content/knowledge contained in a book.

Many argued that the medium was irrelevant, as long as the information was passed on. “I agree with you that ‘reading’ is a word with a specific meaning and listening is not reading,” said one. “But, if I talk to a friend and he says to me, ‘Did you read game of thrones?’ I would say “Yes”. I listened to it on audiobook. The purpose of the question is not to determine the means by which I obtain the content. »

Others insisted that listening required active participation. “I wouldn’t call it passive,” said one. “If you don’t pay attention to it, it’s literally nothing but background noise and absolutely none of it will stick in your memory. I mean, I agree that it won’t isn’t ‘reading’, but acting like there’s no active involvement is a very bad take.”

What does science say?

The listening versus reading debate has been raging for several years now, and several studies have been conducted to try to answer the question.

Overall, the general consensus is that both have their place – but there are differences.

In 2019, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley who subjects tested using functional MRIs concluded that listening and reading evoked nearly identical brain activity.

Daniel Willingham, a University of Virginia psychologist and senior reading comprehension researcher, also weighed in on the debate in a 2018 opinion piece for The New York Times.

“Each is best suited for different purposes, and none is superior,” he wrote.

“Writing is less than 6000 years old, insufficient time for the evolution of specialized mental processes devoted to reading. We use the mental mechanism that evolved to understand spoken language to support understanding written language.

But he argued that print was generally better for “difficult texts” that may need to be re-read or slowly digested. Audio, on the other hand, was better at communicating prosody – the pitch, tempo, and emphasis of spoken words.

“Print may be the best way to dwell on words or ideas, but audiobooks add literacy at times when there otherwise wouldn’t be,” he said. writing.

“Our richest experiences will not come from treating print and audio interchangeably, but from understanding the differences between them and how to use them to our advantage – all in the service of the listening to what the writers are actually trying to tell us.”

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