Energy Hoax?
November 29, 2010 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Whats the deal with these black bracelets?

So I know this has to be a scam, but I can't find any legitimate criticism on how these black energy armor wristbands work.

I'd post the link, but I don't want to perpetuate the hoax. Long story short its a black rubber wristband that gives you strength

They show you strength tests (like hold one leg up, and one arm out and i'll push your arm down and you fall, now do the same thing but hold this bracelet and I can't push your arm down without a lot of struggle)

I tried the tests, and the band seemed to work. I tried the same tests while holding a similar wrist band (but non energy armor) but it didn't work. My only guess is maybe the person administering the strength test believes in the bracelet so they subconsciously shift their strength. Kinda like a Ouiji board maybe?
posted by ZackTM to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are they the same as Power Balance wristbands?
posted by zamboni at 4:05 PM on November 29, 2010

Also, clenching your hand (say around a bracelet) shifts your center of gravity. Most people don't realise how little it takes to do this, for example simply looking straight ahead vs looking down (which I learned the hard way during tightrope lessons).
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

The fact that the strength test involves someone else -- someone who is helping to sell the product -- should be a giant red flag. If these bracelets really make you noticeably stronger, then why can't they set up a weight machine and let you test yourself?
posted by vorfeed at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2010

If it is indeed the product mentioned in the first link I think that pretty much answers the questions, but yeah as vorfeed also alludes to, having someone else qualitatively asses your performance is hinky.

I don't know weather to admire or deplore the scam artists who made these, that's a ton of plastic junk that made them a shitload of cash.
posted by edgeways at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2010

Kinda like a Ouiji board maybe?

Yes, it's another version of the ideomotor effect that makes Ouija boards do their thing.

Try this:

1) Hold your straight arm out and have a person attempt to bend your arm at the elbow. Try with all your might to hold your arm straight. I mean, really work at it! Tense all your muscles!

2) Do the same thing, only this time, relax and visualize that your straight arm is a piece of magical iron that extends straight out from your body and into the wall. Feel the energy flowing from your head to your arm, out of your hand and into the wall.

You may notice that your friend will have considerably more difficult time bending your arm on round two.

Magic brain power!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a classic trick. If you try to lift something of unknown weight and it's heavier than you expect, you'll struggle. The second time you go to lift it, no problem. It works whether you slip on a magic bracelet or not. You're simply unconsciously adjusting for the new information you didn't have the first time.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

This video shows how these "strength/balance tests" are easily performed. I use it at bar's to convince people my cell phone's radiation actually makes them stronger.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 4:26 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

the person administering the strength test believes in the bracelet so they subconsciously shift their strength.

The person administering the test doesn't believe in anything other than the gullibility of the mark that will pay good money for the useless trinket he's hawking. This is a simple parlor trick. The person doing the pushing changes the vector of force to be slightly outward to make the person fall over and slightly inward to make it seem like they're resisting. NeonBlueDecember's link demonstrates it at the 5:50 mark.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:43 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've seen people doing demonstrations for similar bracelets in shopping centers and the like. From a distance, the "strength tests" they're doing appear to be a bastardized applied kinesiology type of thing. So, yeah, it's all hokum.
posted by phunniemee at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2010

After watching the video NeonBlueDecember linked to, I cannot tell you the kind of negative thoughts I am having about the high-end shoe store salesperson who sold me a pair of orthotics a few years back when I was dealing with foot pain. "Look how much more stable you are when you stand on the orthotics!"

Can I at least consider myself slightly less gullible because they were orthotics, and not a quantum vibration pendant? *sigh*
posted by Lexica at 7:09 PM on November 29, 2010

Can I at least consider myself slightly less gullible because they were orthotics, and not a quantum vibration pendant? *sigh*

I dunno, did they help with the foot pain at all?
posted by Stormfeather at 7:56 PM on November 29, 2010

Up until somebody dropped a bookcase on one of my feet, yeah, I guess. But it was awfully expensive help and, I think, counterproductive in the long run. Since then I've learned that what works a whole lot better is postural alignment therapy (so I'm actually standing up straight and balanced) and less shoe, not more (for me, FiveFingers = no more foot pain).

I can't help wondering if that salesperson knew that what they were doing is a scammy trick, or if they were in that "wanting to believe" state.
posted by Lexica at 8:33 PM on November 29, 2010

Podiatrists do sell legit custom-molded orthotics. So at least that's a reason to believe they could work.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:28 PM on November 29, 2010

When I was a boy, some friends and I learned this "magical" way to lift heavy weights, probably from some slightly older boys.

One kid sits on the ground, knees up, hands on knees. Three others surround him; one at each knee and one behind. The two at the subject's knees clasp their hands with index fingers extended, and put their index fingers in the crook of the subject's knees. They're going to lift him with their index fingers. The one at the subject's back puts his index fingers in the subject's armpits. On count of three, the three try to lift the subject. They can't.

They all hold their hands above the subject, one on top of the other, and recite some poetry; it went "Heavy heavy hangover light as a feather" or somesuch. Assume the position again and magically, the three can now lift the subject over their heads!
posted by chazlarson at 7:37 AM on November 30, 2010

It's discussed here, though I don't remember the "icy road" part.
posted by chazlarson at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2010

In case there's still any doubts, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (a Government watchdog) has just declared them a sham and ordered Power Balance Australia to refund any customers who feel they were deceived.
...ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said in a statement: “Power Balance has admitted that there is no credible scientific basis for the claims and therefore no reasonable grounds for making representations about the benefits of the product.

“Its conduct may have contravened the misleading and deceptive conduction section of the Trade Practices Act 1974," Mr Samuel said.

"When a product is heavily promoted, sold at major sporting stores and worn by celebrities, consumers tend to give a certain legitimacy to the product and the representations being made."
posted by Georgina at 2:06 PM on December 22, 2010

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