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‘Power Balance’ Bands Shown Worthless

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Benjamin Radford

February 4, 2011

Power Balance bracelets achieved global popularity, in part because they were embraced by a parade of celebrities.

The Australian manufacturer of Power Balance, the wildly popular rubbery bracelets embedded with holograms claimed to somehow adjust the body’s energy or vibrations, admitted in January 2010 that there is no proof their product works. A representative of Power Balance Australia issued a statement that read in part, “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims. Therefore we engaged in misleading conduct.”

Power Balance bracelets achieved global popularity, in part because they were embraced by a parade of celebrities. Dozens of professional athletes, movie stars, and musicians use them and have been photographed wearing the bands. Australian researcher Richard Saunders said that “The claims are that these bands will improve your strength, your balance, and your flexibility. They also suggest it will improve your well-being, give you clarity of thought, improve your stamina and sports performance, that sort of thing.”

Saunders, co-host of the Skeptic Zone podcast, was asked by an Australian television show to test the bands on a representative from Power Balance. “I tested the head of the Australian branch, and he failed five times out of five tests. So it was pretty conclusive. These were blind and double-blind tests where he had to tell which one out of six volunteers had the band on. He was pretty shocked when they failed to work.”

Josh Rodarmel, co-creator of the bracelets, tried to explain the “science” behind his product by claiming that everything in nature has a “frequency,” and that the Power Balance bands restore a “natural healing frequency.” Claims like this, though common in New Age and “alternative” health circles, are laughable to scientists and skeptics like Harriet Hall, a retired medical doctor and former Air Force surgeon. Hall, who runs a Web site called SkepDoc devoted to examining dubious medical claims, told Discovery News that such claims about body vibrations and resonance are pure nonsense. “This whole resonance and vibration business is pseudoscience emanating from the myth of the human energy field—not the kind of energy physicists measure, but some vague and unproven life energy like the acupuncturists' qi (or “chi”).”

Benjamin Radford

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Benjamin Radford, M.Ed., is a scientific paranormal investigator, a research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, deputy editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, and author, co-author, contributor, or editor of twenty books and over a thousand articles on skepticism, critical thinking, and science literacy. His newest book is Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits (2018).