Powerband Gives Little Wrist Action

A month or two back I received a package from Australia from Richard Saunders who wanted to send me something. Now if you know Richard, then you know there is always a little twinkle in his eye most of the time. Richard is from the the Skeptic Zone and is one of the powerhouses behind exposing the Power Balance Bands – a silicone band with a hologram, that the makers claim  can improve your balance, strength and flexibility all for about £38 (approx $50).It’s a bit of woo merchandizing that has gone both global and mega. Numerous superstars from the sporting world swear by them including that well-known bastion of rationality, David Beckham.

Expecting the unusual, I opened the package to discover two rubber wristbands that could easily have been mistaken for something out of the Ann Summers adult catalogue. These were mock Power Balance Bands produced by the Skeptic Zone to draw attention to the ludicrous claims.

But then earlier this month, the English Cricket Team won the Ashes in spectacular fashion and as you can see from the victory group photograph, the Power Balance Bands are clearly evident. 

However, through the efforts of our more sensible cousins down under, the bracelet’s distributors in Australia were made to apologise and change their marketing and advertising text after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action.

The US distributors of the Power Balance had also claimed: “Power Balance is based on the idea of optimising the body’s natural energy flow, similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies. The hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.” Now if that doesn’t trigger your BS detectors then what will?

Anyway, this story has been developing in the past few months and I guess I have just been to busy to draw attention to it, but today the Telegraph in the UK reported that the creators of the Power Balance Bands admitted that there was no scientific evidence to back up the claims and that they were offering refunds. However, even when the game is up, some believers refuse to listen. Huw Davies, the head of strength and conditioning at Wasps rugby club, said that players were initially skeptical but had responded significantly well to wearing the wristbands.

If the Powerbands improve performance, then they are clearly working on the same principle as lucky charms – wishful thinking and placebo. Anyway, thank you Richard for sending me the fake Powerbands. Maybe I can take them to Ann Summers and see if they have an alternative use for them or where to wear them.

10 Comments

Filed under In the News, supernatural

10 responses to “Powerband Gives Little Wrist Action

  1. Man these things annoy me. I feel embarrassed to be part of the human race when I see people fall for such cheap trickery.

    Story: I was at a party at Thanksgiving and a chap (who I consider to be of reasonable intelligence) was wearing one. I probably wouldn’t have said anything about it until he started extolling the virtues of the stupid thing.

    I asked him how he knew it worked, and he related how the person who had sold it to him had showed how wearing it improved his balance. I asked if I could borrow it, and I grabbed a volunteer from the group who was standing around.

    ‘OK, now hold this,’ I said and gave her the band… except I didn’t. I substituted it with a champagne cork. I did the balance trick on her – which, for about the umpteenth time I’ve done it, surprised all those standing around. But not as much as when I revealed that she was holding a champagne cork.

    The owner of the ‘Powerband’ was puzzled. I got him to hold the cork and did the same balance trick. He was dumbfounded. I explained how it worked. He immediately started to come up with excuses as to why my version of the balance test was not the same as the one that had been demonstrated by the ‘Powerband’ salesperson, even though he’d been completely fooled before he knew the explanation!

    And then (you knew it was coming), he put the band back on again.

    • brucehood

      Bravo Revd … And yet we know there will be another snake oil next year, and the year after that… you know… if I didn’t have a conscience, I would be so tempted to do an L. Ron Hubbard but live long enough to enjoy the fruits of my deception.

    • anaglyph, what’s the “balance trick”?

      • Nevermind, I did a little Googling and found a video of someone — Richard Saunders no less! — debunking it.

        Very nice. I may have to break that one out at a party. I love stupid tricks like that which don’t actually require any sleight of hand (because I like magic, but I suck at sleight of hand. Go figure, heh)

      • It’s so easy to do that it really feels like you’re being a complete swindler. I suggest you practice with a friend first to get the exact balance points (you need to make sure that you don’t overdo the direction of push/pull because it becomes obvious to the victim – but really, the line is so fine that even when you know the trick it’s kind of hard to tell). For best results, spin it up with some kind of story – the trick is so much more easy to accomplish if the victim ‘wants to believe’ (funny that!). I have an old Chinese coin that I say was taken from a tomb in Tibet and is supposed to have ‘healing powers’. It’s truly scary how easily you can suck people in. Too scary. Usually I relate the coin to the Power Balance bracelets (it uses the same ‘frequencies’ etc), demonstrate the trick, get everyone convinced and then reveal exactly how it’s done. Almost without exception the look on faces is priceless. As you will find, it seems SO OBVIOUS when you’re doing it that you think you’ll be busted immediately, and yet no-one seems to notice. Ever.

        An aside: I first saw this balance trick done when I was a teenager, some 35 years ago. At that time it was promoting some other flavour of woo – the efficacy of Applied Kinesiology, as I recall. Since then I’ve seen it used to demonstrate everything from how fast sugar is absorbed by your body to how cell phones affect you. Recently I was APPALLED to see it being used in an art video about colour theory created for high school students (the idea being that different colours ‘affect’ your physiology in different ways).

  2. I’ve just now received a copy of the very first peer reviewed publication (accepted manuscript) that shows they have no effect on balance in a double blind cross over test with 42 subjects. Interestingly, the study was done by chiropractors who do not always have a reputation for critical analysis. I’ve glanced at it, and it appears that over time, balance in fact got worse in participants, but this effect did not reach significance. So, wearing Power Balance over time tended towards you falling over! Ah, so much to love.

    I wrote a blog post about the fact that Power Balance love to use “sciencey” sounding words like frequency and mylar and energy field and synaptic response to make their product sound advanced and SCIENCEY. Then science came along and proved it didn’t work with SCIENCE.

    How you liking science now Power Balance?

  3. Yo! ‘Tis I. News of the moment is that the JREF is going to carry the ShooTag saga off Tetherd Cow – March 7, on the Swift blog!

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