“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The bracelet rage

Was I asleep? I don't even remember where I read the first article about some sort of bracelet designed to, in some fashion, harmonize your energy field or some such. I do remember, though, that it was just this past Wednesday!? This particular one was the Power Balance Bracelet. I read about it and sadly shook my head. Its makers claim to embed frequencies into a hologram that "resonate and respond to the natural energy field of the body."

Then,THE VERY NEXT DAY, I was talking to a person with whom I work and noticed an unusual looking bracelet on her wrist. Innocently, I asked her what it was and she mumbled something about "balance" and told me that she'd give me a card from the guy that sold it to her. Sure enough, she had an EFX BRACELET that uses a hologram that "contains algorithms and frequencies" that interact positively with your body's energy field at the cellular level. As someone commenting on a site said, "how could that not work?"

Next, my stepson asked me to email his Spanish teacher, holding a note out for me to read. "Why, what's that bracelet you're wearing?" I asked, knowing the answer. Andre doesn't know the name of it but it's all the rage on his football team. I shook my head and told him it's useless. "No," he said, "they proved it works." See below.

Now I'm watching ESPN and see a series of advertisements for the iRenew Bracelet with its "Biofield Technology." And they have a quantum physicist! You can't go wrong if you're dealing with energy and have a quantum physicist on your side.

All three show the same "tests" to demonstrate the efficacy of the bracelets. There's one where the victim mark subject holds their arms out to their side and lifts a leg. The grifter tester pushes down on the arm sticking out to the side with the raised leg at about bicep level, first without (always) and next with (always) the bracelet. Due to learning, the mark subject will do better at resisting the second time and the snake oil salesperson vendor will state that it's due to the curative powers of the bracelet.

There's another where it's purported to enable a person to rotate farther from front to rear at the waist as measured by an arm extended out foreward. As usual, the "with the bracelet" test is second. You can go to any of the linked sites and see videos of these "tests" in action.

Back in the 1970s there was a pyramid craze. People wore wire pyramids on their heads to increase their intelligence or sleep better. I remember being offered ... an illegal substance commonly rolled into cigarette shaped cylinders and smoked ... with the kicker that "it was cured under a pyramid." People go to Sedona, Arizona for a "harmonic convergence" and then buy crystals. This sort of woo has always been around I guess, the new aspect is the word salad involving words like quantum, biofield, resonance, hologram, algorithm, and cellular.

Two of the three companies above offer to donate part of the price of some of their items to charitable causes - Save the Seas and Ovarian Cancer. I guess that's a good thing, in the way that you'd want the guy that mugs you to donate some of the proceeds to Jerry's Kids. The sites talk about scientific studies and evidence but I can't see anything except testimonials.

The placebo effect is well known and I'm all for it but the gullibility shown by the ability to make a living selling these pieces of plastic for $30 is another sign of the descent into the abyss of the level of scientific literacy of the average American. In the Far East some believe Rhino horn or shark fin or some other animal part will give them virility or cure them. We smile condescendingly and "tsk tsk" and send our money off for pieces of plastic with holograms embedded with frequencies to tune our biofields.

Update: Rhett Allain at Dot Physics has a supplementary and probably better explanation for the success of the first test described above in his post here.


Tracy Allison Altman (Evidence Soup) said...

Nice writeup on the bracelets. And nice blog, too. Thanks much for adding me to your blogroll.

King of the Road said...

A pleasure Tracy, I really enjoyed sampling your articles and I'm a big fan of anyone trying to cut through the claptrap with evidence based thinking.

Thanks for stopping by.