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Power Balance P@wned

January 5, 2011

I first heard about the Power Balance bracelet in early 2010.  A user in one of the running forums I frequent  claimed to have improved her 10K PR (personal record) by using the bracelet.  I was ready to dismiss the bracelet  as a more stylish version of the magnetic healing bracelets that were so popular in the early 90s and move on with my forum lurking.  However, this being the age of the internet, I decided to quickly <insert preferred search engine here> it just to satisfy my unnatural curiosity.

I quickly found the Power Balance website.  I was immediately impressed at the “slickness” of the site.  It screams “this is a proven product and is used by professional athletes and we have their faces and paid testimonial on our site to prove it“.  This got me thinking.  If this was a product endorsed by professional athletes then there must be something to it.  Off I go a-clickin’ links on their website.  Here’s are the highlights.

  • The How It Works section is pseudo-science gibberish.  The company claims that the hologram in the bracelet is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.  This seems to be derivative of Eastern mysticism where a natural force is believed to exist among human beings.  The Western version of this force earned a lot cash when it went to cinema.  It was called The Force in Star Wars.  Jokes aside… I typically go into something with an open-mind but given that the basic principle of the product is flawed, I was immediately suspicious.
  • There is demo page with a video.  The video does not actually demonstrate the product.  It shows a series of tests that owners of the product can perform to see if it works.  Strange.  If I were selling a product, I would ensure that the demo would show the product working and not encourage people to try it when they haven’t bought it yet.
  • The testimonial page has an impressive list of athletes including Shaquille O’Neal and Derrick Rose of the NBA.
  • The basic silicon model costs $29.95.  That’s a lot of cash for placebo.
  • The site has a counterfeit warning page which lists retailers that sell fake bracelets.  That’s like the pot calling the kettle black.  You can also use the page to report a fake.  I wonder if they get reports for themselves.

The product marketing fails the basic sniff test.  Any product that claims to do something should show that product doing what it claims to do.  I was wrong.  There is a video out there.

Impressive eh?  I was close to purchasing a bracelet to try it myself.  Further googling led me to Richard Saunders, an Australian skeptic.  He basically saved me $29.95 + shipping.  In the video below, he debunks the bracelet by showing the flaws and cheats in the tests.

Today Tonight in Australia also featured the bracelet and Saunders.

Looking at things logically, we can safely call this product a fake.  In a recent development, Power Balance themselves have admitted that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974. Gizmodo has a screen shot of the statement.  Here another related article from The Telegraph.

Also please check out Dr. Steven Novella’s blog post on recent developments regarding Power Balance.  It includes a timeline of events which shows the work done by Australian skeptics to expose this sham.

Still thinking of getting a Power Balance bracelet?  Why not buy a Placebo Band instead?

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