cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Kalexanderson

Someone lend me a rope, I have fallen deep into one of those internet rabbit holes.

It began as a simple “I’ll look this up in a few minutes” query. I’d seen this quote in at least 2 presentations:

“images are processed 60,000 times faster than text”

A number like that smells like it comes from research. First cut google

Most cite 3M as the research source, e.g. This ASTD book on Visual Literacy:

Research by 3M Corporation shows that people are able to process visual information 60,000 times more quickly than textual information

The link reference makes me feel a tad closer:

3M Corporation research cited in “Polishing Your Presentation.” 3M Meeting Network Articles & Advice (2001) [Online Article]. Available:

Except, alas, she is a dead link.

Enter the Internet Archive to the rescue

and the original PDF is still available:

Did you know that visual aids have been found to improve learning by up to 400 percent? Did you realize that we can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text? Would you guess that the average person only remembers about a fifth of what they hear?

These findings from behavioral research confirm our daily experience: we rely on all our senses to bring ideas and concepts to life. Effective presenters today realize that preparing to take the podium means more than having your index cards in order. As photos, illustrations, graphs and text make their way into presenters’ toolboxes, audiences are coming to expect impressive visual aids. However, high-quality images aren’t the whole story. Visuals should support you, not replace you. Use them instead to shed light on your key messages and capture the audience’s interest.

Yet nowhere have I been able to find any of this “behavioral research” just reference to it. The 3M publication is not research, it was actually more or less a sideways assertion for the value of their media offerings.

Yet all over the internet, this pseudofact is asserted as a truth, “research says 60,000 times faster” said enough times makes it– truthy?

I firmly believe the research is out there, and hoping maybe some of my more library or research experts can zero in on it for me… and in fact, I really don’t need to know it for anything specific, but at this point… we”ll I will saee you down the hole.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jpockele

The post "If It’s Repeated Enough…" was originally pulled charred and crispy from a smoky charred oven at CogDogBlog ( on May 6, 2012.


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