Frequently asked questions about speed-learning techniques
Do you have a question about memory, learning or SuperMemo? Write to Dr Wozniak
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Question:
(1) I want to spend my money on the MegaMemory program delivered on cassette tapes. How would you convince me, that I should rather spend money on buying SuperMemo (2) Is SuperMemo the same as SuperLearning developed by Dr Georgi Lozanov from Bulgaria? (3) Which techniques produce a greater increase in the speed of learning: SuperMemo or the mind maps proposed by Tony Buzan?

Answer:
The mnemonic techniques (Tony Buzan, MegaMemory, MindMan, etc.), Suggestopedia (Dr Lozanov) and SuperMemo can all be considered complementary. All of them have to do with optimization:

To be a successful student, you have to (1) apply mnemonic techniques while (2) using spaced repetition in a (3) optimum cognitive environment. The important advantage of SuperMemo is that many capable students develop quite good tricks as far as mnemonic techniques are concerned. They can also reasonably master their own psychology and physiology to subject it to the learning effort. However, they have no way of optimizing the spacing of repetitions. Mostly due to the fact that the amount and complexity of computation needed to determine the intervals require the use of a computer and the technology proprietary to SuperMemo World. You should always try to extract the best of the teachings of Tony Buzan and others; however, if you are a capable student, you may start off from learning how to optimize the timing of repetitions. As for now, SuperMemo is the world's best tool developed to assist you in this task


See Skeptic's Dictionary for a skeptical analysis of NLP
(konrad, Jul 03, 2002)
Question:
What do you think of NLP?
Answer:
Skeptic's Dictionary provides a highly skeptical review of neurolinguistic programming


What is better: SuperMemo or VTrain
(Achab, Sep 25, 2004, 16:50:17)
Question:
I found a website that has reviewed many applications similar to SuperMemo and issued a list of the best ones: www.quingle.com/softarea/flash-wi.htm. SuperMemo is placed second along with other programs. Actually, reading the reviews you can see that it somehow rises a bit above the other runners-up. Anyway, the software which is placed first is one called VTrain. According to the criteria of the reviews, the reason why VTrain outsmarts SuperMemo is that you can’t group items by difficulty or priority with SuperMemo, while you can do that with VTrain (using some Leitner Study File system). Do you regard as accurate information the fact that using VTrain you can group items by priority or difficulty while with SuperMemo you can’t do that, or you can do that in a less fine way? If so, do you think you will add this Leitner thing to improve your software?
Answer:
SuperMemo is very strong at prioritizing. Moreover, we are certain that its repetition spacing algorithm is superior as compared with other applications. Moreover, we believe that no better repetition spacing theory currently exists. The Leitner system is a rudimentary spacing algorithm that preceded SuperMemo. It is not targeted at any particular level of knowledge retention, and as such cannot be a viable substitute for SuperMemo. Nevertheless, do not take our word as final. You could best write to user forums. You will probably find users of SuperMemo who tried VTrain. Many of these will agree with the verdict favoring VTrain. SuperMemo loses ground for its being overly complex and poorly optimized to satisfy a novice user. Many people give up SuperMemo early for the mere dislike of its "repelling" interface. 

See also: http://www.antimoon.com rich in discussions about the best software for learning vocabulary, incl. VTrain (note that Antimoon promotes SuperMemo).


Question:
Can I use SuperMemo to memorize mind maps?
Answer:
Yes. You can build mind maps directly in SuperMemo; however, it is easier to import them from specialized mind map software (e.g. MindMan). You can include MindMap objects with the OLE component or you can simply import them as graphics (as BMP or GIF files).


Tony Buzan and SuperMemo
(JON DOWAT, Tuesday, February 12, 2002 5:10 AM)
Question:
Is SuperMemo based on the memory research by Tony Buzan?
Answer:
Not directly. However, both SuperMemo World and Tony Buzan try to produce a synthesis of what is know about efficient learning. Those philosophies are largely identical. Our advice related to mnemonic techniques, although not part of SuperMemo itself, is largely based on Buzan thinking. Similarly, Buzan is a proponent of repetition spacing. His proposed increased interval scheme is slightly different from what comes out from computations made by SuperMemo, but is equally valid in practical, non-computer, applications. Tony Buzan has accomplished a great deal promoting "learning to learn" attitudes worldwide. His work fertilized the ground for seeding SuperMemo


(Julien Seetharamdoo, UK, Jan 3, 1997)
Question:
I would like to know how to memorise mind maps?
Answer:
The best method is to split the mind-map into simple individual pieces and memorize these pieces separately! The pieces must be chosen in such a way that ensuring that you remember all of them you can guarantee that you can recall the whole map. You can find more information about this in knowledge structuring in repetition spacing


(Julien Seetharamdoo, UK, Feb 19, 1998)
Question:
I am trying to use SuperMemo 15 to learn mind maps created using Mind Manager. I have imported the mind maps as BMP files to the image registry but haven't been able to append them as answers to questions. How do I do this?
Answer:

It is faster to import files directly to image components:

  1. Copy the BMP file to the clipboard, and paste it into SuperMemo with ''Ctrl+V''.
  2. Check Answer on the component menu to make sure that the image is not visible at question time.

NB: If you already have images in the registry, you can use Link Registry Member on the image component menu.


Question:
Isn't memorizing mind maps in opposition to the minimum information principle?
Answer:
No. Minimum information principle should not be interpreted as minimum information on the screen, or minimum number of bytes to represent the item. It should be interpreted in terms of information that has to be stored in your memory. If you produce and item that links the image of a horse and a cow, the association is very simple. No mater how intricate the pictures of the horse and the cow are. The essence of mind maps is that they are easy to remember, i.e. if well-designed, they comply excellently with the minimum information principle.


Memorizing collections such as 20x20 Multiplication Table increases mnemonic computational skills
(Mark, Sun, Jul 29, 2001 2:48)
Question:
Once a user memorizes 20x20 Multiplication Table, will he or she be able to count properly without a calculator or pencil and paper?
Answer:
Yes. It is hardly possible to memorize 20x20 multiplication table without doing some simple calculations in memory. Cramming the results is neither recommended nor is it easy. The calculations made at recall stage actually enhance one's ability to run computations in memory, and decrease the need for a calculator!


SAFMEDS skills are useful in incremental reading
(TKMan, May 25, 2003)
Question:
I read about a special kind of flashcard training called SAFMEDS. Do you recommend it?
Answer:
Yes. SAFMEDS can shortly be characterized as the art of cloze deletion formulation combined with precision teaching. What you learn from SAFMEDS will directly translate onto a subset of skills employed in incremental reading. Note, however, that SuperMemo does not employ nor universally recommend fluency drills typical of precision teaching. 

The art of SAFMEDS emphasizes the core principles of efficient learning (and SuperMemo): active recall and minimum information. It also formulates the rules of cloze deletion formulation (here: SAFMEDS card construction criteria): uniform blanks, blanks at the end of the sentence, minimum wording, multiple cards for multiple keywords, etc.


The Silva method does not seem to be based on solid science
(Staszek, Poland, Jun 14, 2002)
Question:
Do you recommend the Silva method?
Answer:
Although there have been many people genuinely happy with the Silva method, we do not believe this method has a solid scientific basis. As a result, we have no reasons to recommend it. Please consult other sources too. See also: Silva Method (Skeptic's Dictionary)


Mega Memory and SuperMemo are complementary
(Dave 42914882, Wednesday, June 26, 2002 7:45 AM)
Question:
I bought a product called Mega Memory. How does it compare to your system?
Answer:
Mega Memory will enhance your mnemonic skills. SuperMemo will help you remember for ever. Mega Memory improves your short-term memory skills. SuperMemo builds long-term memory. If you use SuperMemo, you eliminate the problem of forgetting. If you combine it with Mega Memory, you will accelerate the speed of learning by being able to formulate your material in an easy-to-recall way. See also: Mega Memory at SuperMemopedia


Mega Memory controversy
(Tim Stinnett, Mar 19, 2005, 12:42:27)
Question:
I was reading your FAQ and came across a section regarding Kevin Trudeau and his Mega Memory system. In addition to the criticisms of Trudeau already mentioned, you may want to add that Mr. Trudeau's memory apparently is so bad that he cannot even remember our criminal statutes or agreements he made with the federal government. Kevin Trudeau is a two-time convicted felon who served federal time for credit card fraud. Trudeau also was convicted on state charges involving check fraud and impersonating a physician
Answer:
As we may not be able to provide a thorough review of all products and techniques on the market, you can use SuperMemopedia to initiate review articles and place your opinions there. For example, click the Edit tab on the Mega Memory article and expand it to your best knowledge: http://supermemopedia.com/index.php?title=Mega_Memory. As for Mega Memory, this is an indisputably entertaining course of ancient mnemonic techniques. Those who do not want to support shady characters standing behind individual products can always look for equivalent alternatives


Axon software
(Nick Sadler, the Netherlands, Aug 05, 2002)
Question:
What do you think of Axon Idea Professor? Would you recommend it?
Answer:
We have not tried Axon. The software seems highly innovative. Some SuperMemo customers expressed positive opinions


We strongly recommend books by Tony Buzan
Question:
Do you recommend books by Tony Buzan?
Answer:
Yes. These books belong to the classics of memory improvement and mental training. They also are very motivational. If learning is important to you, reading at least one of Buzan's collection is a must


We recommend Trudeau's Mega Memory as a tool for exercising your memory skills that complement SuperMemo
(Peter Cool, The Netherlands, Nov 6, 1998)
Question:
Last weekend I started to read and exercise Kevin Trudeau's book Mega Memory. What is your opinion about this?
Answer:
MegaMemory is a good system to exercise your mnemonic skills. It is simple, strongly motivational and shall be useful for most students who want to strengthen their ability to master hard-to-memorize material.
The course, however, carries a couple of popular memory myths. Needlessly Kevin Trudeau begins his program with the claim that memories do not get erased as a result of forgetting and are simply becoming inaccessible. This is not true. The example used in the program refers to our bicycle riding skills. It is noted that people retain biking skills for years without repetition. However, biking falls into the domain of procedural learning (including touch typing, playing instruments, sports, etc.) as opposed to declarative learning (e.g. math, vocabulary, learning faces, etc.). Every minute of biking is equivalent to multiple repetitions in declarative learning and retention and forgetting are governed by slightly different principles. Information theory can be used to quickly prove that the brain is not capable of retaining all information in stores in long-term storage. Hence the need for forgetting. 
Note also that FTC has filed a lawsuit against Kevin Trudeau as a result of his marketing overstatements (the lawsuit was settled). Having said that we still strongly recommend Mega Memory or other mnemonic systems as a system complementary to SuperMemo and based on tried ancient mnemonic techniques.
As a bonus, if English is your second language, Mega Memory tapes can additionally serve as a course of colorful English (narrated by Trudeau himself). See also: Mega Memory at SuperMemopedia and MegaMemory controversy


It seems difficult to reproduce good results in learning with SALT
Question:
What is your opinion about Suggestive-Accelerative Learning and Teaching (SALT)?
Answer:
The problem with SALT is that it seems difficult to reproduce good results in learning with the method. The flaw may not necessarily be the method itself but its replicable employment (example). Similarly, it can be shown that learning vocabulary with SuperMemo is relatively easy and can be reproduced by self-taught individuals in nearly all cases. However, more advanced techniques, such as incremental reading, require a great deal of expertise and may, in experimental classroom conditions, produce inconclusive results! SALT may be the most representative implementation of the teachings of Dr Georgi Lozanov who himself had to disavow association with a number of teaching schools that try to pull his name under their own umbrella with tags such as SuperLearning, alpha wave learning, NLP biofeedback, accelerative learning, hypnosis, etc. Quality evaluations are scarce and practical applications may not be straightforward