In a completely shocking and unexpected turn of events, the company behind Power Balance wristbands has officially admitted that the product isn’t backed by any scientific studies–and that the company’s advertisements were misleading. And right after the holographic technology to improve “balance, strength and energy” was named CNBC’s Sports Product of 2010!
Did you catch that? That was sarcasm. And while we here at DISCOVER may have our own opinions, the product was endorsed by SHAQ (whose name is also spelled in all caps). SHAQ, how could you lie to us after we supported you through the Kazaam! days?
Power Balance claims that the holograms (which are exactly like the ones in your credit cards) embedded in their wristbands or pendants have some sort of “energy flow” which can be manipulated to “resonate” with the body’s natural “energy flow.” In quotes in the Daily Mail, Power Balance co-founder Josh Rodarmel explains how they “work”:
“Everything in nature has a set frequency. The body has a frequency and things which cause negativity to the human body – like mobile phones and radio waves – break down its natural healing frequency. My brother and I worked out a way of putting good frequencies into our holograms so they balance out the body, making it stronger and more flexible. It works in different ways for different people. Athletes say they can last longer on the field, that they have better balance and that their muscles recover quicker. Non-athletes say it works for them, too, giving them that extra boost off the field, in many areas of life including the office and in the bedroom.”
We’ve caught that frequency before, Rodarmel–it’s the frequency of pseudoscientific hogwash. The company never provided any proof that the bands worked, or any logical reason why they should.
A very similar company’s product demonstration has also been debunked by the Australian skeptic Richard Saunders. See his video below:
Every year, the Sense About Science group puts out a list of some of the most egregious blunders made in science and medicine during the past 12 months. But they’re not talking about surgeons’ errors or the research mistakes of lab workers; instead, SAS focuses on celebrities who adopt fad diets and bogus healing remedies, and then spread the nonsense around the world.
In 2010, many celebrities–including David Beckham, Robert De Niro, and Shaquille O’Neal–jumped on the “Power Balance” sports fad (don’t actually go to that website, it will make you stupider). This absurd system suggests that plastic bracelets and pendants with holograms will optimize the body’s natural energy flow because they’re “designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.”
Sigh, I suppose we actually have to say this: There is no way a hologram could change your athletic ability. The website doesn’t even try to explain the company’s “science.” But just so we cheapies don’t all go around strapping our credit cards to ourselves before a long run, Michael Blastland responded to a claim from Shaq (who endorses the product) that the bracelets help him win basketball games. From the SAS report (pdf):
Here at DISCOVER, we do our best to keep you informed of all the crap scientific advice that celebrities dispense, be it Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaxxer yarns, Oprah providing a platform for new-age nonsense, or soccer star Robin Van Persie’s praise of placenta massage to heal injuries. But with so many celebrities and so much bad advice, it can be hard to catch it all—TMZ might catalog the whereabouts and philandering of the rich and moderately famous, but not necessarily their quackery.
Never fear, though, because once again the British organization Sense About Science has pulled many of the year’s worst offenses together in a handy compendium. The charity’s annual review pairs celebrity claims with reality-based quotes from doctors and scientists.
Here’s one choice gem: Heather Mills, the animal rights activist and former wife to Paul McCartney, claimed that when you eat meat “[it] sits in your colon for 40 years and putrefies, and eventually gives you the illness you die of. And that is a fact.” Thanks for the info, Heather!
Anyone who’s seen Slumdog Millionaire knows the sorry state of sanitation in many of the world’s biggest slums. And with sewage contaminating more waterways and public spaces every day, the need for effective sanitation measures is dire. To bring the point home, here’s a stat for you: Only 16 percent of people in Cambodia have access to some sort of latrine or toilet, and five million people around the world die from waterborne illnesses every year.