Tuesday, 4 January 2011

6 Reasons why Balance Bracelets are Stupid

Six things you should know about Power Balance/Pro Balance bracelets

Note this article was written for an online news site in South Africa (hence the South African references).
Many of your favourite sport heroes wear them. Some cost as much as $65/R500. They are sold in sport shops around the country and were found under many-a Christmas tree this December. They are made of quality silicon embedded with a hologram. The promises made by the products include the following:


“...optimizing the body’s natural energy flow...”
“...eliminate and nullify the effects of man made (sic) frequencies (60 cps) in the body...”
“...prevent disease...”
“...improve the immune function...”
“...balance out the two hemispheres of the brain, again as measured by EEG tests...”


Some products are claimed to contain negative ions (for the layman, this is simply atoms/molecules with more electrons than protons, that’s all) which they claim to miraculously improve the body’s health too (giving specifics like the unscientific “boosting the immune system”). This claim is not only misleading, but is a medical claim that in many countries would be illegal. The ASA in South Africa however excludes complementary medicine from their guidelines around the marketing of health products so it’s less likely that we’re going to see court action against these companies any time soon.


Anyway, here are some points to consider before buying one yourself. If you disagree or you feel that not enough details are given, then feel free to do some of your own research.
1. The balance/strength/flexibility tests are really old mind tricks that have been used to sell all sorts of snake-oil over the years (colour therapy, pyramid power, crystal power to name some). These are old applied kinesiology techniques which can fool both the customer and sometimes the salesperson too. Whereas it appears as though ones flexibility and balance is affected, when the tests are blinded (i.e. neither customer or salesman know whether the customer is holding a holographic bracelet) then the tests are no better than random. The reason for this is due to the ideomotor effect. See the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ynbx5JfEwcA.
2. Bio-energy fields and Qi energy which are frequently referenced by these products have been searched for on multiple occasions and even with today’s high sophisticated equipment, such energy has never been detected. Yes, the body radiates energy, but this is over a wide range of frequencies (ever seen a thermal image of yourself?).

3. The “power” of holograms and Mylar technology is implausible scientifically. The “theory” that a resonating (temporal) frequency can be “stored” in a Mylar hologram is unfounded. For those familiar with holograms there are spatial frequency programmed in the hologram which controls the light and dark parts of the hologram and have nothing to with resonant frequencies. All they do is change the amplitude and phase of the wave (not the frequency). The Mylar itself simply strengthens the hologram.


4. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have forced Power Balance to retract their unsubstantiated medical claims. The Commission found that the claims made by Power Balance did not follow actual scientific evidence. http://www.powerbalance.com/australia/CA?___SID=U .


5. The Power Balance chosen frequency is apparently 7.83Hz. Where did this come from? Apparently it’s one of the Schumann resonance frequencies that relates to the frequency of the Earth’s magnetic core. Even if humans have an “ideal frequency”, there is no extensive evidence to suggest that 7.83Hz is it.


6. Ionization jewellery has been marketed for a while. Scientifically it makes very little sense as the body has ions in solution throughout the body and there is no such thing as ionized solid objects. Not only that, but the Federal Trade Commission in the USA sued Q-Ray, a seller of ionized bracelet for fraudulent advertising and medical claims. Medical claims that are no more audacious than those made by holographic bracelets selling in this country. The FTC won and the judge labelled the claims of Q-Ray as fraudulent. When tested ionized jewellery performs no better than placebo.


Whether you choose to believe all this or not, is not important. What is important is that you are aware that there is significant objection to the efficacy of such accessories amongst the scientific community. Yes, science doesn’t have all the answers, but to retort and claim that a couple of slick marketers (who can take $2/R10 bracelets made in China and bump up the price to R500) know better, then shouldn’t you look a little more into this?


So if it’s a fashion accessory you’re looking for or a superstitious quirk you wish to indulge, perhaps these holographic ionized bracelets is for you. But at $65/R500 a pop, I reckon the only balance you’ll be adjusting significantly is your bank balance.

Resources (all websites):

Skeptologists Blog

Science Based Medicine

James Randi Educational Foundation

Skeptic's Dictionary

Power Balance website

4T Pro Balance website

44 comments:

RobC said...

Well said!

Maydont said...

Thanks RobC

fit4thabo said...

Credibility is everything and since I know you, I will go with your results. No need for me to research further.

Maydont said...

Thanks Thabs.

Following on from my comment about marketing complimentary medicine in SA, I am told that Pro Balance's claims in South Africa have been complained about to the Advertising Standards Authority.

anti snore said...

The article is great.

Anonymous said...

Powerbalance is a poor quality product BUT your need to be skeptical seems to be clouding any form of clear thinking.

My advice to you is to stop trying to disprove things which you clearly have no knowledge about.

I am an experienced hematologist and we can easily and clearly see the effect of negative ions and other external influences on blood cells, hydrogen molecules etc.

Maydont said...

Thanks Anonymous.

If you read carefully, you'll notice that I don't "rubbish" the medical benefits or potential benefits or claimed benefits of ionization. I'm fully aware that much work is and has been done recently in this field. However, if you yourself read up on the claims of some of these companies which claim, e.g., "our product contains 1200 ions!" and that these ions will perpetually have a positive effect the body, even a basic grasp of high-school chemistry will realise that this is not possible.

The approach of being skeptical here, is to inform the credulous and naive out there who have paid as much as 30x the cost price for these rubber bracelets. It's a scam and the world needs to know about it.

My advice to you, Anonymous, is to investigate these scams a little more before flippantly criticizing my post.

Anonymous said...

Maydont - Sorry, but your grasp of high school science is not very good.
Negative ions always will have a constant positive effect on the human body. From whatever source they come.

I ask that you please consider things and scientific developments far more carefully before you comment or write articles that could mislead others who trust your judgement. It's not IONIZATION that we are discussing but rather the effect of negative ions on the human body.

Anonymous said...

Also Maydont - While I dont like powerbalance, I take far greater exception to the false and unscientific statements made in that idiotic piece of journalism that you either wrote or quoted. Bio- Energy fields are detected and used as a diagnostic tool by leading hospitals and universities including FDA employees. Get yourself up to date on medical technology.

Maydont said...

Anonymous. Are you trolling? I'm not going to get into an ad-hominem slanging match. Do I really have to spell it out? Ionization is the process of separating molecules or atoms into charged particles (ions). The negative ion (anion) will have more electrons than protons.

It is claimed that these bracelets (not Power Balance, incidentally), are comprised of a powder that was somehow extracted from a liquid that had undergone ionization. They claim that this powder contains 1200 negative ions that perpetually interact with the human body in a "positive" way. Are you then claiming, Anonymous, that this claim is perfectly plausible? Incidentally, before anyone accuses me of the logical fallacy "argument from personal incredulity", let me just state that no substantial double blinded placebo controlled trial has been conducted to determine the efficacy of the benefits of these bracelets.

When you refer to bio-energy, let's be clear as there is ambiguity in the definition. Whereas biochemists will refer to e.g. electrical impulses in the body as bio-energy, the term is better known in terms of alternative medicine practiciouners referring to life-force, qi, vitalism etc. This is to what the sellers of the bands (they even refer to Eastern philosophy) refer and (it doesn't require that much imagination to realise that) this is to what I am referring too.

Anonymous said...

Maydont - You really are a complete Idiot. You have no understanding of science at all. Your arguments are appallingly stupid.

Maydont said...

You're entitled to your opinion, Anonymous. But I'd reallly like this blog to be open to constructive discourse. I think it's digressed. In fact if your understanding of ion therapy or any other point/post on this blog might shed further light or even contradict what has been written, feel free to write a paragraph.

I'm quite open to constructive criticism, but unconstructive criticism, strawmen, ad-hominem attacks, poisoning the well really adds nothing to this topic.

Anonymous said...

Maydont - If you want to set yourself up as a scientific commentator and take it upon yourself to "Educate the Credulous and Naive" then you must publish your credentials - That is:

1)At which university and department are you Professor or Associate Professor?

2)Please refer us to your clinical studies,papers,results and reviews.

3)If none of the above - What qualifies you to extract information from scientific journals and publish your opinion of such?

Maydont said...

An argument-from-authority is logically fallacious. You don't need to be a zoologist to identify an elephant.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have shot yourself in the foot dear Maydont - LOL

Anonymous said...

You seem to have shot yourself in the foot dear Maydont - LOL...

Ultrax said...

You two should really get a room! ;-) ... besides... I agree with Maydont - and annonymous ... if you fall for these ridiculous bracelets - you should not be allowed to comment .. let alone breed.

Anonymous said...

The only really stupid or ridiculous thing is to ridicule things of which you have absolutely no understanding.

That is the definition of a "Real Fool"..

anti snore said...

The approach of being skeptical here, is to inform the credulous and naive out there who have paid as much as 30x the cost price for these rubber bracelets. It's a scam and the world needs to know about it.

insurance quotes. said...

They claim that this powder contains 1200 negative ions that perpetually interact with the human body in a "positive" way. Are you then claiming, Anonymous, that this claim is perfectly plausible? Incidentally, before anyone accuses me of the logical fallacy "argument from personal incredulity"

stock trading said...

I'm fully aware that much work is and has been done recently in this field. However, if you yourself read up on the claims of some of these companies which claim, e.g., "our product contains 1200 ions!" and that these ions will perpetually have a positive effect the body, even a basic grasp of high-school chemistry.

Maydont said...

Anonymous is just trolling.

snoring solutions said...

. I'm fully aware that much work is and has been done recently in this field. However, if you yourself read up on the claims of some of these companies which claim, e.g., "our product contains 1200 ions!" and that these ions will perpetually have a positive effect the body, even a basic grasp of high-school chemistry will realise that this is not possible.

Anonymous said...

"In the land of the blind they would not believe that there was any such thing as sight"

Maydont you are an Idiot and you are trying to educate idiots.

You give credence and respect to anyone who claims authority - you poor fool..

Anonymous said...

P.S. Also you snoring, insurance, fraudulent stockbroking etc etc. domains are really crap.

Stop trying to "educate" others.

Educate yourself first then you can get a real job.

snore stop said...

This claim is not only misleading, but is a medical claim that in many countries would be illegal. The ASA in South Africa however excludes complementary medicine from their guidelines around the marketing of health products so it’s less likely that we’re going to see court action against these companies any time soon.

anti snore said...

I don't watch many movies, but I watch the good ones over and over and over. Just like books, if it is worth seeing/reading twice, it worth reviewing at least 10 times.

Piet said...

Dear Mr. Maydont,

To promote skepticism/critical thinking I wrote some questions for the Christian believer. Mefiante from South African Skeptics made a good translation. She is now working at the last part. The most sophisticated questions. Are you able to put the link to these questions at your blog.

Thank you very much,

Piet - Rotterdam - Netherlands.

The original questions

http://www.freethinker.nl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=8382
The translation
http://www.freethinker.nl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=10033
The first one who did this, was Jonathan. This is a good example.
http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/tough-questions-for-believers/

Ps. I found your adress at blogroll

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Anonymous said...

Bottom line... I feel sorry for anyone who buys these bracelets; probably the same people who voted for Obama.

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting article. Too bad the comments are filled with trolling by a scam artist who wants to keep up the hoax.

Intense Energy said...

Haha so many haters what's up!!!! Maydont what's up with the hate bro? Have you been hurt by these bands? Or someone you loved? Where they scammed out of their money with a no 30 day money back gauruntee? Last time I checked a scam does not give money back!! Oh and if you think margins are a scam then learn about business!! What about diamonds? They are cheap to manufacture but retail is expensive? Guess diamonds are a scam... See how stupid you sound?
Also why does it help so many people with health problems?? If it was snake oil or a false test then or placebo effect then something is working and hey sign me up I want to sleep better, find relief from my back, headache, arthritis, fibromyalgia, have better focus at school and sports, have more energy and be protected from Positive ions!
If a placebo effect can make someone feel better or find relief then more power to them! It's call law of attraction and that is proven real! The mind is a powerful thing!
However only downfall about bracelets being a placebo is I am not always thinking it will help me...it just does!
There really is something to anion bracelets! Just cuz you don't understand it cuz your high school chemistry class didn't teach it does not give you the right to make such negative comments bro!
Get a life! Why ruin people's lives with negativity! I mean how would you like it if someone was attacking your company or belief?
If someone was selling a product that hurt someone then yes spread the news!
Then again you can't have a product for everyone so I can see why they offer money back guarantee so if you feel no difference bring it back!
Problem solved! Enough said!

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Demona said...

Intense Energy, the reason people feel so passionate about debunking a subject like this is because it IS harmful to others. The harm that is done here is misinformation. Let me give you an example. My mother-in-law thought she could cure her cancer with a type of tea instead of using chemo, only to find out a year later that it spread to her bones, brain, and lungs. If she was educated about how to think critically and look at issues like this with a sceptic mindset, she would still be alive. People just tend to blindly believe snake oil salesmen because they have a few cool tricks, but when asked about it in more detail (like how do you actually get ions in a solid object?) they clam up and try to change the subject.
In short, misinformation a extremely harmful and causes millions of people to lose their life savings, and in more extreme cases, their lives.

Intense Energy said...

I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Yes you are right about misleading sales people. However I can answer your question about how the negative ions are put into the bracelets! We use many different minerals and gemstones. Tourmaline is the highest, germanium, far infrared, titanium, silica gel, bamboo powder. We crush all these up into a powder we mix in with the silicone. So they are all in the bracelets! You do know the benifits of these right? If not i can provide links or you can research on your own.

Off the subject of bracelets tho. You have heard of The Secret right? The Law of Attraction? There was a lady on there that believed she would be healed from cancer and guess what she was!! Plecebo effect or positivity that is remarkable! Not saying it works all the time but it's proven. As for just relying on a product that is sometimes not enough!

If this bracelets helps others and offers money back within 30 days then I see no harm done! $10-30 dollars will not make the average person go broke. Just saying...

Anonymous said...

I bought a bracelet at the PGA store at the Jacksonville Airport last Friday. One of the
Diamond Shaped Holograms came off the bracelet 3 days ago. Will it still work?
Margie

Intense Energy said...

Yes it will! The hologram is just for looks. The science is in the mineral and gemstones inside of it! I listed some above in my comments. :) they should have a lifetime warranty so contact the person who sold you it! Or I can help you if they don't!
Thanks!

Danno said...

Any and all of these INANTIMATE OBJECTS that tout health benefits are a SCAM, period. Use your common sense, people. THINK about it.

These fradusters are playing on the weak-minded, firstly, which is disgusting, and the actually physically-compromised and hopeful, which is dispicable. And anyone who tries to back these scammers up is equally guilty and disgusting and dispicable.

Remember the old adage: "If it's too good to be true, it probably is". That saying was carefully crafted and handed down to ferret out scammers in any era and any area. A piece of over-priced junk, hung, wrapped, pasted, or otherwise displayed on your body is not going to cure it.

Don't let the scammers or scammer enablers discourage you, Maydont! Keep up the good work!

Intense Energy said...

I love the stupidity of some of these comments! The ignorance and lack of research aka KNOWLEDGE people are doing! Goes to show you the level of inexpertise in the world! Hey whatever makes you happy go for it! But it WORKS FOR SOME PEOPLE SO WHY ARE YOU MAD AND COMPLAINING? Really??!

Danno said...

Just as I thought! BUSTED. By your trolling so hard on the heels of a post, you must have a LOT at stake here, Intense...

Can't you find a more honest way to make a living? You and your ilk have to stoop to hurling insults and name calling to protect your under-handed enterprise. What a pathetic way to express your opinion. It's so obvious when someone's eyes are open.

Intense Energy said...

Haha your not going to win this argument! How about this tell me about the minerals and gemstones I talked about and please tell me how they can help us and hurt us! Ok and then i can give you facts about them! May the best answers win! Cuz I am confident you have NO CLUE what your talking about! I don't want you to feel stupid I am just trying to educate you!

For arguments sake lets just say it is all 100% plecebo which I know it's not but to a degree I would say yes! Cuz the placebo effect is proven and the mind over matter is incredible! My experience with the negative ion bracelets has been positive! It's HELPED OTHERS! So why would you waste so much energy and time on something you don't understand completely?? Really you sound selfish is uneducated! Honest! You think I am trolling? Haha if helping others is trolling then well I will keep doing so!

Come on BACK UP WHAT YOU BELIEF!! You think they don't work well tell me all the facts why? Name them!!

Anonymous said...

Hey first i would like to point point out that im not the same anonymous than that other fellar. I just want to give you all this link to an article from 2002 - long before all the bands and whats not - witch is about negative ions effect on the human body (not the wristbands effekt). It makes it clear to all who reads it that there is mesureable positive effects to the body, if the wristbands manages to give the negative ions to body i dont know. They seem to work, placebo or not, but that i dont know anything about. I just wanted to end the discussion on the technology of negative ions and move it in the directions of if they actually manages to use this technology

http://www.detoxion.com/Negative%20Ions.htm

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Brett's Wright said...

Do they really advertise 1200 ions?

High school chemistry: one grain of sand has roughly 2 X 10^19 (thats 2 with 19 zeros after it) molecules in it. Ions are just charged molecules. Doesn't sound like people are getting their money's worth in ions to me.

One other note: a common negatively charged ion, cyanide (CN-), is found in apple seeds. In fact, one apple seed has roughly 1.24 X 10^19 of these negative ions.

So if you want more negative ions in your life, eat through the core next time you bite into an apple.

Might save you a buck or two as well ;-)

P.S. if you are really wanting me to back up this info, I'd be glad to oblige.