Nobody has ever said pro athletes are beacons of knowledge and scientific rigor. Have you seen any famous athletes wearing this piece of garbage?
It’s called the “Power Balance Performance Technology Silicone Wristband”, and according to the manufacturer it is “a leader in the market for Performance Technology sports accessories….worn by thousands of professional and amateur athletes worldwide”. Until they were sued and almost went bankrupt the company stated: “the holographic technology resonates with and responds to the natural energy field of the body and increases sporting ability”. Don’t look now, even the Rhodes Scholar X-Pres is wearing one:
We are quite good at convincing ourselves we understand the principles behind the everyday products we use. Modern consumers have this illusion of knowledge where familiarity with a product breeds a level of understanding. But how well do we really understand the inner workings and mechanics behind our stuff? If I asked you how your TV works or if you could make one from scratch, could you? How about a zipper, could you make a working model? We take all these seemingly simple things for granted but if you were sent back 200 years in a time machine could you make a light bulb, radio or bicycle? This all brings me to the term: “technobabble” which means incomprehensible technical jargon. Every day we are bombarded by technobabble in an effort to get us to buy something. This jargon persuades us to buy one thing over another because it sounds better.
Here’s a perfect example of technobabble used to sell a “health” gadget:
“Logically, utilizing e=mc2 every atom has mass and the speed of light (c) is a constant, therefore there must be energy in every atom. Through our proprietary programming process, our chip emits sub-atomic energies powered by an atom’s inherent energy. Coincidentally, this energy stimulates the separation of blood cells in the wearer’s body which can help increase blood cell circulation. While the scale of vibration is considerably smaller for nano-vibrational technology, it is inherently the same in definition, to any other object that vibrates.”
Logically by using overly technical scientific terms this company hopes to dupe the average consumer. The above description is from the “Shuziqi” website which sells nano technology vibration jewelry. Shuziqi and unfortunately many others like it (such as Power Balance) are overpriced borderline unethical health gadgets that supposedly confers a plethora of positive benefits on its user:
Better athletic performance
Decreased joint pain
Increased positivity and endorphins
Despite Einstein’s theory of relativity, there is no credible scientific evidence to support the claims of this product and others like it. Yet many very smart people are misled all the time into spending lots of money on this tripe. I blame the success of these products on their convincing technobabble and our desire to think we understand the principles behind these items. Interestingly, if you believe this bracelet will help your athletic performance and health it just might, via the placebo effect.
Listed below are a few other health products that are backed by reams of technobabble and questionable science. Many of these gadgets do have supporting research backing their claims however manufacturers funded most of the studies. When you are in charge and paying the bills you can prove almost anything!
1- Toning Shoes (MBT, Reebok Easy Tone, Sketchers Shape-ups) – Supposedly these shoes decrease fat in your butt as you walk. Besides the fact that you can NOT spot reduce fat, several studies have shown these shoes not only don’t work they may cause dysfunction too. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported several injuries caused by these shoes and a few hospitalizations! Reebok and Sketchers were both sued and lost in court for false advertising and personal injuries.
2- Slimming Shorts (Zaggora Hotpants) – “Trim inches off your hips and thighs….specially designed sports shorts that contain bio-ceramic technology, which emits far-infrared rays and reflects back the heat naturally generated by the body to deliver warming up of tissue deep below the skin’s surface.” The website instructs for the best results the user should work out for 30-60 minutes daily. These pants trap more heat than regular pants thus you lose more fluids and actually weigh less after a workout. However, fluid loss does not = fat loss and you can’t spot-reduce fat loss! If these pants worked, we would all be in the gym in our full body vinyl sauna outfits. Remember Martin Lawrence passed out and went into a coma from heat exhaustion while wearing one such outfit. I bet he lost a lot of weight too!
3- HawaiiChair – You have to see this to believe it – it slims your waist while you sit at work… and probably wrecks your lower back in the process.
4- Far Infrared Therapy and Sauna – Did you know it amazingly treats autism and kills cancer cells! Next time a family member gets cancer I’m going right out to get one of these things. I have also seen claims like this: “Helps liquefy fat cells, burns calories and controls weight. Improves and clears cellulite. Most effective way of burning calories. Burns up to 500 calories in one full session”. If it were even possible to liquefy fat cells, how does it leave your other cells and organs intact? I guess there must be a conspiracy holding this information back, because being the most effective calorie burning device is nothing short of revolutionary.
5- Magnetic Therapy Pads, Bracelets and Inserts – Magnets are perhaps the champs of pseudo-science health products. This junk has very little if any scientific evidence proving health benefits. However, it is a 5 billion dollar industry worldwide. Go figure. The pitch below describes how a particular form of magnetic therapy functions. Please let me know if you understand.
“Pulsating Magnetic Fields can reduce pain sensations almost immediately. This is due in part to the increase in the oxygen partial pressure in the terminal tissue and the increase in the local perfusion and velocity of the capillary blood flow alleviating the accumulation of metabolites due to small vascularization and blood flow (transmitted by the sympathetic nervous system). “
There is a mountain of real scientific evidence debunking magnetic therapy. If you’d like to know more check out:
Brody, J. 2000. “Less pain: Is it in the magnets or in the mind?” New York Times, November 28: F9.
Finegold, L., and B.L. Flamm. 2006. Magnet therapy: Extraordinary claims, but no proved benefits. British Medical Journal 332: 4.
Pittler, Max H., Elizabeth M. Brown, and Edzard Ernst. 2007. Static magnets for reducing pain: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Canadian Medical Association Journal 177(7) (September): 736–42.
Your parents were right, if a product sounds too good to be true or just way too complicated it probably is. Save your money and keep on moving.
Doug Joachim – NYC www.JoachimsTraining.com