[I’m sick of thinking about this, so instead of writing a post on it, I’m just posting my letter in response to the company(?)’s second attempt to get me to endorse their product below, with some added emphasis and a link that always cheers me up a bit. But while not perhaps as smooth as a real post, this does accurately capture my opinion, for those of you who were wondering. Oh, and the site — I’m not giving them a link, but if you really want to see it — is at smart sleep team dot com.]
I'm not an iPhone user, but thank you for letting me know about your project. Unfortunately, as before when you asked me to look at it, I still strongly disagree with your plan to market polyphasic sleep, and I think that especially your claims that it's "scientifically proven" (when it is emphatically not) are disingenuous and will make all of us who are fans of polyphasic sleep look bad. There's no shame in our style of sleeping having not been adequately scientifically researched yet, but your unproven claims and attempt to attach scientific validity where there is none will push us over the line into pseudoscience. I've worked really hard to avoid that, and to avoid making unsubstantiated claims in my own writing, so it's both disappointing and irritating in the extreme to see someone throwing accuracy to the wind and making all sorts of wild claims in an obvious grab for money. You're making a lot of claims that, when they don't turn out to be true for many people and/or your app can't deliver them, are going to make polyphasic sleep seem less valid a lifestyle choice. All so you can make money off it.
Thanks a lot.
Your site is incredibly marketing-heavy and very light on facts, and missing a lot of necessary disclaimers (and oh yeah, any citations at all). You try to prescribe schedules for people in ways that completely ignore individual variation, and in some cases seem outright dangerous (people with serious health problems should sleep in two 3.5h chunks? Who are you to say that, besides someone who desperately wants to be sued??). I also have a pretty good idea of what data is really out there on polyphasic sleepers, and unless you've been carrying out studies and not telling anybody, it's really scary to think that you must have used a bunch of forum posts, blogs, and reports from mostly-unsuccessful adapters to support your claims that you can solve all these sleep- and time-management issues for people, and to pre-build schedules for people that, again, when they don't work, are going to convince a lot of people, including hopeful polyphasic sleepers, that polyphasic sleep doesn't work. I get that it's harder to monetize information, caution about scientific language, and individual variation than presumptively picking methods and coding them into something easy to get people to pay for. But I think good information is way more important than monetization. I suppose it was inevitable that others wouldn't agree with me eventually, but it's still really infuriating.
You could have written an app that was useful to people who are or want to be polyphasic without making any of these claims. If you weren't so selling-focused, you could simply provide good tools and information to help people learn, choose schedules, and succeed at adapting; but instead, you resort to claiming to have scientific backing for polyphasic sleep's benefits, and to having knowledge about how people's individual polyphasic schedules and adaptations should work, so that you have something to sell. Well as it happens, I *am* as close to an expert in polyphasic sleep as there is right now, and I know where your (100% nonscientific) information is coming from, and I call bullshit. (Even if you weren't bullshitting, to be fair, I'd probably be annoyed at the attempt to monetize a type of sleeping, of all things — capitalism ad absurdum, ugh — but as a bonus from the perspective of angry letter-writing, you're also full of shit, or at least your website is. I especially like how your "schedule designer" has less than a year of polyphasic sleep under her belt, and your two whole testimonials are both anonymous. That tells me more about this product than anything else you've written.)
I'm really disappointed to see polyphasic sleep being commercialized this way, especially with such an irresponsible amount of inaccurate language and unsupported claims. I'd urge you to make changes, but I already brought up these concerns the first time you wrote me, and they certainly weren't addressed. It's obvious that selling people on polyphasic sleep as a product is more important to you than helping people or advancing alternative sleep schedules as an option, so instead of a cool alarm / scheduling system, which I would have liked as much as everyone else (if not more), we get a branded orgy of lifehacky marketing-hype. (Your marketer(s) are very talented! Please give them my greetings from Bill Hicks.)
You asked if I'd endorse your product or write about it…well, much as I'd rather not, I'm going to have to write about your product, if only so that my readers don't think that I endorse it at all. And obviously I forbid you to use my name, my book, my website or the group adaptation project in any of your marketing materials. You're kind of doing the exact thing I've feared most and tried my hardest to avoid tainting polyphasic sleep with. You'll probably make a lot more money off of polyphasic sleep than I did, of course, being that that's your goal. I just hope that in doing so, you don't cost those of us who are or could be really helped by polyphasic sleep our credibility.
PureDoxyk / Marie