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Archive for the ‘“Science” scam’ Category

Just When You Thought I Couldn’t Get Any More Smug…

There has finally been a step in the right direction in the battle against the PowerBalance company. The three of you who read my blog on a regular basis will no doubt be aware that I hate Powerbalance. I hate them and everything they stand for, I hate the people who make it, I hate the people who promote it and I hate the part of people’s minds that fools them into believing a piece of rubber is having a therapeutic effect on them simply because it was expensive and has a small hologram on it. I am so happy there has been some progress made in getting rid of this stupidity once and for all.

The makers of the Power Balance wristbands have admitted overstating their claims of the product’s therapeutic benefits after the Therapeutic Products Advertising Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP) ordered advertising of the product to be retracted.The CRP found Power Balance Australia to be in breach of the therapeutic goods advertising law.

This excerpt is from The Age website from the 21.11.10:

“The complaints panel found Power Balance should not have published an advertisement for the wristbands on its website which unlawfully made claims … about the body’s ‘electric balance’ and improving ‘synaptic response’, brain function, muscle response, stamina, oxygen uptake, recovery, flexibility and ‘gravitational balance’ ”. The panel said Power Balance ”provided no evidence to support any of the claims … and no indication that such evidence exists”. In response, Power Balance acknowledged it had breached the code. ”Since the time of the complaint, the relevant claims had been removed from the website,” the company said.

Soon after this ruling a “corrective advertisement” appeared on the Powerbalance website, apologizing and offering upset parties a full refund, however between me reading it this morning and me copying it for you to see here this afternoon the bastards removed it! Their honesty only lasted moments, I will continue to attempt to find a copy of their statement but until then, here is the guidelines which they were asked to follow by the CRP when writing their advertising retraction:

 

 

Oh Powerbalance, you’re going down.

For those of you who are going to miss your shiny magic bands why not buy one of these adorable Placebo bands?  They’re just as shiny and they’ll do pretty much the same thing.

 

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The 2010 Shonky Awards

I have to admit, I’m sitting here feeling a little bit smug this morning. As my many avid readers (hi Mum!)  are probably aware my very first blog post was about the Power Balance Band.  I was so enraged by the stupidity of the useless rubber arm band that I was spurred into action (well my nerdy version of action).

So it was with great pleasure that I read the news that Power Balance Bands have been awarded a Shonky award for 2010 by CHOICE a leading consumer advocate group in Australia.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band it is a silicone band that comes in various colours that has a useless hologram sticker stuck in it, oh wait, no, sorry it’s a  “Mylar hologram designed to react with the body s natural energy flow.”

When worn Power Balance claims that these bands will increase your, strength, agility and balance, magic!  Of course the company has a whole bunch of incomprehensible pseudo-science jargon to back up their claims, but basically, it’s bullshit.

The CHOICE Shonky Awards are given out annually to deserving crap products and this was what they had to say about Power Balance making the list:

“We CHOICE sceptics did our own testing under controlled laboratory conditions – after all, you can’t believe everything you see on TV – and verified the Skeptics’ findings. The money-back guarantee, however, did work. The only power this bracelet seems to have, placebo effect notwithstanding, is in tipping its distributor’s bank balance well and truly into the black – they’re reportedly raking it in. So, if a fool and his money are soon parted, there are apparently plenty of fools out there – and they’re all conveniently identified with a rubber band bracelet. If you see one, offer to sell them a bridge.”

Well said CHOICE, well said. So even though this obviously crap product has been proven yet again to be a fake, people still aren’t willing to admit they’ve been had, this is an excerpt from the Telegraph today as quoted from Andrew Wood, a personal trainer and triathlete from Sydney, who had worn one of the bands for months:

 “I don’t put it on thinking I’m Samson and take it off and think all my power is gone … but you do start getting attached to it so I probably will keep wearing it. I’m less taken by all the hype around its energy systems.”

Less taken in?! Jesus, there is no helping some people, as CHOICE said, at least now they are identifiable by their little bracelets.

Coles “$10 meal” promotion with Curtis Stone also received an award. The premise of the promotion is that you could follow the special recipes handed out at Coles and make a gourmet meal to feed up to four people for less than $10. CHOICE found this to not be the complete truth, unless  you happen to have some of the stuff in your pantry already and you manage to convince Coles to let you buy two cloves of garlic or one bay leaf. CHOICE calculated Curtis’ $7.76 Coq au vin would cost $37.74 if you bought all the necessary ingredients – including the integral half-litre of vin, which somehow wasn’t included in the $7.76 (though you’d perhaps hope not for that price). And it wasn’t just that recipe – the $9.99 Chicken Tikka Masala would set you back $39.74.

Also in the CHOICE line of fire was Nurofen, and more specifically it’s targeted pain relief tablets (neck, back etc) that contain identical ingredients to regular Nurofen pain relief tablets and yet cost more money. Bravo Nurofen, even I fell for that one. I’m the kind of moron who says “My back hurts, give me some back pain relief! No damn it! I said back not shoulders!”

Hmmm maybe I’ve been to harsh on the Power Balance victims, everyone gets taken in by some scam or another. The important thing to do now is to cut your losses, admit defeat, take off the fucking band!

O.k. you got scammed, and it doesn’t feel nice. Nobody likes looking silly, but you’re going to look a lot more silly if you keep clinging to the bands and defending them in the face of all the logical evidence. if you want some dignity back, I would suggest you find some other Power Balance victims and have yourself a little lawsuit. Unfortunately history has shown time and time again that even though the emporer has no clothes everyone would rather pretend he does than admit that they’ve been fooled.

Powerbalance Bands, scientific miracle or scam?

Recently I began to notice a strange fashion trend apearing around me. Little rubber wrist bands with a shiny hologramatic sticker imbedded in the top. I was intrigued, was this some new form of status symbol? A trinket to show that you are a member of an elite club? Or did these bracelets have some even more macarbre meaning? Perhaps they were the symbol of a seperatist religious cult.

When I finally asked someone who was wearing one about their meaning, I found out the truth was much more mundane. These bands were called “Power Balance Bracelets” a magic charm that supposedly gives the wearer greater balance and power.
They work, as my friend breathlessly explained by enhancing positive vibrations and dampening negative disharmonic vibrations. Apparently doing this will help your body to attain peak performance potential.

I am personally a natural sceptic and simply nodded and smiled (ocassionally throwing  in a “Wow ions, fascinating” for good measure.) My friend assured me that to hear about the power of the band was not enough and that the effects had to be experienced to be believed. I consented to undergo a test.

I stood with both feet together and my arms out, my friend now acting as a demonstrator pushed down on my left arm instructing me to resist this push downward as much as I could, I was unable to resist for more than a few seconds before my arm was defeated. Now I was told to hold the bracelet in my hand and the test was repeated, amazingly I was able to withstand the pressure on my arm for more than double the time of the first attempt.

In the second test I held my hands together behind my back and stood with my feet together. I was told that my friend was about to push down on my hands and I was to try and resist falling backwards without moving my feet. As soon as they began to push I was unable to keep my balance. I repeated this test while holding the band and as in the first demonstration I was able to hold my balance much more easily. My friend had an “I told you so” look on their face, apparently the Power Balance Bracelets had proved their point, or maybe not…

I said earlier that I was something of a sceptic, I will now correct that and say I am a complete sceptic. The tests with the band only made me more intrigued by the band and I began my research. I started with the science behind the bands, as my friends description of how they supposedly worked had seemed a little vague.

I thought the logical place to begin was the Power Balance Website, on the website under the how it works section the explanation given is:
“POWER BALANCE’S Mylar Holographic Disk (the same substance used to keep static electricity from damaging electrical components) has been imbedded with an electrical frequency that restores your body’s electrical balance, promoting a free exchange of positive and negative ions and align your body’s energy pathways.
The high density Disk acts much like a switch, resonating within your system and turning on your energy field while it clears the pathways so the electro-chemical exchange functions like the well-tuned generator it was designed to be.
When the static Power Balance Hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it begins to resonate in accordance with each individual’s biological, creating a harmonic loop that optimizes your energy field and maintains maximum energy flow while clearing the pathways so the electro-chemical exchange functions like the well-tuned generator it was meant to be.”

Well, yes, obviously that makes perfect sense, glad they could simplify things for me. Now you may be aware that I am in no way a scientist, however that information made no sense to me, so I decided to google away and find any information that I could to simplify this theory. What I found however was similarily confusing explanations with a lack of eveidence to back it up.

Somewhere along the way I came accross this quote from  Harry Radcliff power balance rep. “It’s all about the test. In the stores, when people ask me what it is, I don’t even explain. Just do the test. I’ve done it with thousands of people, and 99%…they’re blown away.”

as well as “It’s a big step concept to get your head around, but the bottom line is, you don’t need to understand it for it to work. I do presentations all over South East Asia, so instead of trying to explain anything, I grab someone and just do the test. In Indonesia, every time, they turn to their mates and call me a witchdoctor.”

Ok, so, the test. Lets look at the test. These types of demonstrations are done using something called Applied Kinesiology which is a “science” used by many chiropractors and other alternative medical practioners, wikipedia describes it as: A practice within the realm of alternative medicine and is different from “kinesiology,” which is the scientific study of human movement. AK has been criticized on theoretical and empirical grounds,[7] and characterized as pseudoscience[8] and quackery.[7] With only anecdotal accounts providing positive evidence for the efficacy of the practice, a review of peer-reviewed studies concluded that the “evidence to date does not support the use of [AK] for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions.”

Whilst researching applied Kinesiology I came accross this video on youtube

I found this video to be very interesting and useful in understanding how these demonstrations are pulled off. So to summarize, if you really feel that you need to spend $60.00 to give you some confidence in the abilities that you already have, be my guest. Hell, where do I sign up for a franchise? Or maybe not, there have been a number of these so called magic cures that have come and gone over the years, all with similar “scientific” themes. Take the case of the Balance bracelet a metal bracelet that was supposedly electro-polarized by an undisclosed process. The makers of this product claimed that the bracelet had pain relieving qualities the Federal Trade Commission did not agree and the manufacurers were ordered to pay $400,000 due to their deceptive claims. I give powerbalance a couple more years at most before they face the same fate and another shoddy product comes to take their place. as always, a fool and his money are easily parted.