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You Paid How Much for That?

I was watching the NBA finals the other day and I was wondering what the shiny bracelets on all of the players were. When I got to my local climbing gym later that day to work out, I saw two people with the bracelets and decided to ask what they were for. They said (like regurgitating a cult mantra) that they increased physical performance, balance, and overall wellness. This was all accomplished through a dime-sized piece of mylar and a microchip that “regulated your body’s vibrations” (of course they do). Not only that but they also “made sure that your body is resonating at the correct frequency by aligning your atoms in the correct manor”.

Any scientifically educated reader will quickly recognize the copious amount of bogus buzz words and scam talk frequently used by new age cultists. However, it is easy to fall victim to their circular and fragile logic when not informed, so let’s get started.

On the more harmless end, a friend commented on how so many people have the bracelets and how so many people could fall for something that is supposedly a scam. This is a common logical fallacy called argument from popularity, which states that just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is true or that it works. Mass delusions are always out there, and wishful thinking is usually enough to persuade a person for the quick magic fix without evaluating its claims. The main reason I get so wound up about this issue is that it has crossed the line from harmless nonsense to charging over 90$ for such garbage.

Most people want to believe this kind of thing is possible. The people who sell this nonsense know that[…]They are either self-delusional[…]or they are willingly scamming you.

Next, the modality of performance. A simple question that is good to ask anyone making a claim is not what the product does, but how it accomplishes the claimed effect. While the two individuals were able to memorize what the bracelets do, they were unable to say how. How does a piece a Mylar and a microchip regulate frequency you ask? They don’t and they can’t. There is nothing that can physically make this possible for a number of reasons:

I’m Getting Those Good Vibrations

Sadly, there is no such thing as a body frequency. Nothing that can be measured and nothing that can be interacted with. Ask yourself, if all the world’s scientists haven’t discovered or verified anything like this, how likely is it that some small company has discovered and mass produced a Nobel prize worthy discovery for 90$? “Frequency” and “vibration” are classic new age buzzwords that sound enticing but have no basis in reality. They obviously have taken the common knowledge of say, a glass can vibrate and break at certain frequencies and extrapolated this into the realm human use with no evidence, efficacy, or legitimacy.

Secondly, there is no way that the Power Balance bracelet can align your atoms. One, this would instantly reduce you to a pile of protoplasm, as molecules and atomic structures form in complex webs and clusters, not perfect lines. Two, the amount of power that would be required to align your atoms would require a bracelet with a magnet in it the size of your water heater. Do you know how much power it take to move your atoms significantly? A level equivalent to 16,000,000 times the Earth’s magnetic field! Thirdly, how would alignment of atoms translate to improved performance? There is no mechanism that links the microscopic alignment of atoms to the macroscopic metric of human performance. Before arguing with me over atomic structures, shouldn’t you know how they work? (talking to you gym guys)

Finally, the testing that is used to convince people of the power of these bracelets has been thoroughly debunked. Both of the followers at the gym tried these tests on me, all which were copied from the scamming techniques of applied kinesiology. These techniques rely on specifically varying application of pressures, and I learned how to fool people with this technique in about 2 minutes (I have in fact fooled every single person I have tried the test on). It may sound inconsequential, but when a person is not thinking critically, and not recognizing the tricks, the next step is they take your money. Any effect that is seen is merely placebo, if someone tells you that you are going to see an effect and then controls the testing by influencing the balance themselves with no scientific blinding, placebo will explain any positive outcome. It is akin to unknowingly taking sugar pills for a headache and having the headache disappear. The mind/body relationship is powerful enough to accomplish this, but not powerful enough to change the physiology required to create frequency or align atoms.

What Skeptics Can Do

This link is to a video showing how Australian skeptics simply and effectively showed how the bracelets do not work. It only took a simple blinded test to show how the bracelets give absolutely no effect. And as is the case with most all pseudoscience, a simple double blinded test is all that is required to render the modality ineffectual.

I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but I find that most of these arguments stem from the lack of general science knowledge. Of course it would be great to buy a simple bracelet and to have better athletic performance; most people want to believe that kind of thing is possible. The people who sell this nonsense know that. They are either self-delusional to the point that any evidence against them will have no effect, or they are willingly scamming you. Watch the video or related videos and try to learn the trick yourself. Not only will you be inoculated against that kind of scam, but if you already have a bracelet, do a simple blinded test and see if they really work. They won’t, I’ve tried. I’ve put rocks in people’s hands and they have had the same results that the bracelets claim. Magic rocks? No. Bogus bracelets? Yes.