I will have to start a legal action for libel

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Robin P. Clarke wrote to Piotr Wozniak:

Dear Piotr

Re: http://www.supermemo.com/articles/overload.htm

I have long ago previously asked you to publish my replies to your objections to my overload theory, but I find you still leaving in place your page of loads of supposed faults of my work and yet you put not a word of the possibility that I may have valid responses to any of them.

Do I really need to explain that it is absolutely untrue that "if Robin P. Clarke was entirely right, you should soon expect an epidemic of Alzheimer's among users of SuperMemo." On the contrary if supermemo produces more efficient coding of memories, then the opposite would be the case. It's not that it crudely crams more data in but rather that it makes it more efficiently stored and retrievable.

There are a huge number of other grossly misleading things in your critique. For instance you misleadingly refer to Nature: "The editors of Nature (back in 1995) had similar feelings, and their verdict on the article is understandable". But that is not true. Nature merely replied that they did not think it important enough. They did not allege any faults in the theory. And you chose not to mention the response of Prof David Horrobin condemning the response of Nature as abysmal and typical of the narrowmindedness of these so-called leading journals. Such a false and one-sided account is libellous. There is plenty on the internet about how very far from great these "leading" journals are in reality.

Another gross misrepresentation is this: "Instead of postulating a hypothesis on the basis of evidence and looking for corroboration, Clarke starts off from confident claims".

In short this is a highly libellous misrepresentation of my work, which is totally unnecessary given that the overload theory is in no way in conflict with supermemo anyway in reality.

So I have to ask you to remove this page or else I will have to start a legal action for libel.

I should also add that I am about to have a very major update to my (still unchallenged) autism theory published, to be published in a journal in Poland, no less. This new paper from myself will receive extremely high publicity (because it decisively solves the most pressing medical problem of our times). And so this situation will present yourself as a great fool for putting up such half-baked misrepresentation of my earlier work on your site without even allowing me the courtesy of a reply there.

So I look forward to your removing this highly inappropriate, highly libellous page as soon as possible.

And I don't oppose your supermemo system, I just don't have the time or energy to study it as I have more important problems in my life than lack of memory.

And yet, since you are so needlessly hostile to my own work, perhaps I shall start a campaign of attacks against your own. How would you like that?

Yours sincerely, Robin P Clarke


  • Original criticism from Robin P. Clarke was posted here yet in 2005: Memory_overload


The following message was sent directly to Robin and is posted here to re-emphasize the positive inspiration coming from the discussed article, and the fact that we always strive at providing an open forum for voices that disagree with opinions presented at supermemo.com. The actual reply will also be posted below when ready.

Dear Robin, 

>>>I look forward to your removing this highly inappropriate, highly libellous page as soon as possible
I was very surprised to hear that this old article is causing distress, esp. in the light of our nice communications in the past about the same article.
Please note that your original reservations have been posted already 5 years ago here: http://wiki.supermemo.org/index.php?title=Memory_overload
Let me stress that my primary intent in discussing your effort was to show your positive and inspiring influence on understanding Alzheimer's disease!
I do not need to agree with you to be strongly inspired by your hypotheses. I truly was.
Your hypothesis could be reworded to emphasize the role of the hygine of learning, which was little discussed at supermemo.com previously.
I do not think pulling articles off the net is a good idea. I agree, however, that we should place a prominent link to your replies, 
esp. that many of these provide further food for thought. 
For example: How data-rich are the memory encodings of visual streams?
As it has already been 8 years since writing the article, let me re-read the text and your reservations, and provide a more detailed reply. 
I am doubly motivated today, due to the fact that SuperMemo already provides the tools to measure the degree of 
homeostatic fatigue induced by various forms of learning: classic SuperMemo (active recall) vs. 
incremental reading vs. watching videos, etc.!
I apologize for this late reply, and promise that the follow up will come much faster.
Have a nice day


Piotr Wozniak

Subject: WARNING re Libellously Unsound false critique of the memory overload theory
Author: RPClarke
Date: Aug 14, 2010, 00:03:44
Collection: Mail Summer 2010
Generated: Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 8:20:31

Updating the article

Dear Robin

  • The article now includes the link to both of your letters at the bottom.
  • please note that the following statement refers to "inspiration coming from the web" in general, not to your article in particular: the web can accelerate the progress of science. Inspiration can come not only from on-line claims that could not pass the peer-review test, but also from those that are riddled with errors, falsehoods, poor judgment, prejudice, bad intentions, or other departures from the purely scientific discourse.
  • your hypothesis about visual learning and television, can now be tested with SuperMemo as well. SuperMemo supports incremental video. If overload theory is correct, it should lead to AD epidemic even faster than ordinary incremental reading (assuming wider popularity). Network overload should result in mental tiring (brain's defensive mechanism). It can be shown with SuperMemo that homeostatic sleepiness is clearly associated with the degree of learning. Casual observation seems to contradict your hypothesis: it is the Q&A supermemo that seems to be most tiring. Incremental reading seems less-taxing due to a high admixture of passive reading. While incremental video seems to reside at the very bottom in the fatigue-potential. Users report that it is very hard to sustain 60 min. of pure Q&A repetitions of complex material (e.g. economics as opposed to vocabulary), yet long hours of incremental video seem a cinch. Even though I do not have specific figures to confirm that, I already have sleep and learning data in collections that are based on pure video. Time permitting, it will be interesting to see the impact of video learning on the homeostatic sleepiness.