I was there this morning, and while pushing my way through the throng to score some oriental noodles, I noticed a stall set up hocking Power Balance bracelets (and a cheaper non-brand alternative). I've heard of these before, so I decided to take a look:
|The box enthuses "As worn by Celebrities & Athletes!"|
Let's read the display:
So many alarm bells go off when you think about what this notice says. Let's ignore the drivel about this thing reacting "positively with your body's naturally occurring and ever-flowing energy fields", because this is patently wrong. Have a look at the empty promises of improving "Balance, Flexibility, Strength, and general Wellbeing". These are not empirically measured metrics, and "Wellbeing" is a term that snake-oil peddlers use when they can't make direct health benefits, so that can be immediately dismissed.
|Your humble blogger, handling bullshit with his bare hands|
The guys peddling these bracelets have some serious nuts. Just have a look at EFX, who saw Power Balance charging a 30,000% markup on a 10c silicon bracelet and decided to get a cut of the action, but with a harder-sell:
"Try before you buy" it exhorts! Stand on one leg and have someone (more than likely the vendor, let's face it) push on your wrist until you fall over! Then put on the magic bracelet and repeat the procedure! This is science! There are so many things wrong with this 'trial' that I'd rather not expend the energy on it. The only truthful statement on this packaging is that it poses a choking hazard to children.
It's no surprise that something like this would be at a market. Far be it from me to opine on subjects in which I have no expertise, but I have pigeonholes into which I place people who seek out such bullshit. Cosmopolitan types who make a habit of going to markets to procure produce at inflated prices for the sake of not engaging in a more conventional corporate environment are the kinds of people who buy into the bunkum like alternative medicine, because they're 'alternative'. These are the belief networks that promulgate fear of western medicine and propagate rubbish that muddies the water about safe, important procedures, like vaccines. These people are dangerous in a rather subtle way.
Power Bracelets are an Australian Export, and thanks to the efforts of some Australian sceptics, they recently admitted to their lies:
When I was at the stall this morning, I picked up the bracelet with a chortle and started telling my friend about the specious claims they were caught out on. The attendant kept her distance. It's possible she was aware of the high-profile fall-from grace that Power Balance had suffered. Had my initial reaction been any different, I reckon she'd have offered to test my balance.
[A scientific breakdown of the claims made by Power Balance are available on Skeptic Blog]