Power Bollocks: holograms, unicorns, and Shaquille O’Neal’s magic underpants

This week I was alerted to Power Balance. Basically, bracelets and pendants with holograms in them. From the website’s “how it works” section;

“Most everything has a frequency inherent to it.  Some frequencies react positively with your body and others negatively. When the hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it allows your body to interact with the natural, beneficial frequency stored within the hologram. This results in improved energy flow throughout your body.”

The official website is vague on details as to how it is supposed to work.

“The Mylar material at the core of Power Balance has been treated with energy waves at specific frequencies.  The resulting Mylar is believed to resonate and work with your body’s natural energy flow to help enable you to perform at the best of your ability.”

Energy waves at specific frequencies basically means they either shone some light on it or played it some sound. This is a slightly higher technology version of a homepath shaking water to help it remember. It’s still just a hologram, just a very expensive one.

Even if wearing a hologram next to the skin on the wrist had some effect, it would only affect the skin on the wrist, surely? Doesn’t that stand to reason, at the most basic level? Also, would everybody’s ideal frequency be the same? How could you measure it? The basic premise doesn’t stand up to the most basic questions.

It just doesn’t even start to sound plausable. Even without going into the physics of resonance or electromagnetic fields. So, is it necessary to try out every fruitcake idea that people use to sell crap to other people? I don’t think it would convince any of their customers anyway.

Some people will believe no matter what. Shaquile O’Neal is certainly impressed, and is clearly honest in his testimonial. But is the original any more sensible than this slightly edited version, really?

“I came across my (magic underpants) when someone did the test on me. That night, while playing for the Phoenix Suns, there were about three of my teammates with (magic underpants) on and we won that game by 57 points! I kept feeling something when I wore (my magic underpants), so I kept wearing (them). When I took (them) off I went back to normal. I’ve been wearing (them) ever since. “

The strict sceptic’s view might be that every such idea should be subjected to tests, but it’s no more necessary than to examine the aerodynamics of fairy flight, the medicinal properties of unicorn eyeballs, or the value of magic beans in the international cattle trade market. There has to be a basic minimal foundation in reality before it’s worth examining the science. It’s just a shame that more people don’t have a basic bullshit filter in place.

If I want to feel energised, I might drink a coffee. If I was feeling a bit more experimental, then I might try speed. That would certainly do the trick. Wearing a magic bracelet wont make me any more energised than wearing a pointy hat will make me a wizard.

Placing faith in objects is not a good way to improve your life. There is no quick fix to restore balance and energy flow (whatever that means). Companys like power balance cite vague references to eastern philosophy when it suits them, but meditation, yoga and the like take some kind of dedication and personal reflection. There is no doubt in my mind that it can help people physically and emotionally. To imply that a magic wristband can have anything like the same effect is not only silly, but insulting to both the science and philosophy they forcibly mash together.

Check out this post at Evidence Soup on the Power Balance bracelets, with the brilliant headline “How do those Power Balance bracelets work? I think it’s because of the 20-Hz difference between a genius and an ascending colon”, and this video on a blind test of the magic holograms:

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8 Comments on “Power Bollocks: holograms, unicorns, and Shaquille O’Neal’s magic underpants”

  1. Josh Says:

    Great article James! I can give this bracelet to my sister, the underpants to dad, and the pendant to mom. Got rid of the christmas shopping headache already and its not even november!!

    Cheers


  2. [...] so long ago, I blogged about Powerbalance bracelets- incorporating holograms treated with special frequencies to improve peoples’ energy flow, [...]


  3. STOP HOLOGRAM SCAM!

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  4. [...] Power Bollocks: holograms, unicorns, and Shaquille O’Neal’s magic underpants [...]

  5. EricI Says:

    “Magic”… Shit as always

  6. Patrick Matthews Says:

    The sad thing is people like the one who wrote the rude article above are too scared to try the products that are out there. Yes, it is hard to grasp when the normal way is go along with what these sceptic scientists say. Condemnation without investigation is the highest form of ignorance .
    I have tried all the product on the market and there is a clear difference when blind testing. Holistic medicine was thought of as quackery for years. I did not believe in it until an acupuncturist got me out of a wheel chair when i was told by Docs in California I would need surgery for severe hyper extension of my knee.
    There is so much to discover out there. Do not be a sheep and listen to people who start up negative blogs about things they are to dumb to try….. Life is good.

    • James Hayton Says:

      Actually, In some ways I agree with you… I’ve pretty much stopped science blogging after finding myself dragged into this kind of negative sniping. It’s not why I wanted to get into it start with, and it’s a cheap shot to mock what I think is nonsense.

      Let me be clear, it is nonsense, the stuff about health and optical frequencies, and companies exploit customers by using pseudo science. But I don’t want to write a smug, negative blog. Thanks for the comment, and all the best to you


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