MK writes: “I have been hearing a lot about power balance bracelets. One of my children has started wearing one. Can you tell me if there is any danger in this?”
The only danger in wearing one of these bracelets is the embarrassment the wearer is destined to feel when they realize how badly they’ve been duped.
According to the creators of this nonsense, two young surfers with great imaginations, Power Balance bracelets incorporate “Performance Technology” which is designed “to work with your body’s natural energy field” (first red flag – there’s no such thing as a natural energy field). A hologram in the bracelet (second red flag – holograms are a complete scam – see /?p=106 ) optimizes the body’s natural energy flow “similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies” (third red flag – these philosophies are pantheistic, which is not compatible with Christianity.) “The hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.”
According to this article in the Orange County Register , Power Balance bands were the invention of Troy and Josh Rodarmel, two “brothers in jeans and flip flops who founded the company in January 2007.”
The Rodarmel family were into alternative medicine, which is where the idea for the bands came from. Troy was a believer in crystals, which allegedly store different kinds of energy such as electrical, psychic, magnetic and nuclear (there’s no scientific evidence of this). He believed he could make a healthy living by programming the “frequencies” emitted by these stones into something that is both affordable and wearable. Somehow, Troy discovered that Mylar film, which is used to make party balloons, could hold these frequencies. So he embedded the “signals” in Mylar holographic disks which he then fastened to a wristband so that it could be “worn within the body’s energy field.”
The brothers invested their life fortune into the gimmick, and it worked. They managed to get the bands onto the wrists of several professional athletes such as basketball giant Shaquille O’Neal who said the band gave him a “surge of jungle cat quickness.” (If you want to know why, read The Power of Placebo ) Before long, the bands were showing up on the wrists of other pros which amounted to millions of dollars of free advertising. As of this summer, the brothers sold 2.5 million power bands (at anywhere from $30 to $60 a pop) to the unsuspecting public.
This is not so amazing because mankind has been falling for “snake oil” since time immemorial. Even the glowing Orange County Register article admits that “this growth came without scientific proof that the wristbands actually do anything (emphasis in original).”
Perhaps this is why a Power Balance salesman failed so miserably in this blind test that was televised on an Australian news show:
According to SkepticBlog, this demonstration involves an old stage magician’s trick called Applied Kinesiology in which a performer is able to fool a victim into thinking he has more or less strength. “Power Balance didn’t even change the name of the trick, presumably guessing that people are too stupid to look it up on the Internet to see how it’s done,” writes SkepticBlog. “Power Balance bracelets are sold just on the strength of this illusion.”
The same blog goes on to point out what is, perhaps, the biggest injury of all. The Chinese manufacturer of the bands offers them at a wholesale price of just $1.17. When contacted, the manufacturer said that at the quantities Power Balance is buying their products, each would cost about three cents.
Authentic scientific breakthroughs don’t come in that price range.