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Bracelets such as Energy Force and Power Balance bracelets claim to improve balance, agility, strength, etc. The demo at the health expo seemed pretty convincing but how can it possibly work?

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Related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/475 –  Jason Plank Mar 13 '11 at 2:08
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The wife of a friend was selling a similar "technology" of a different brand name that were ostensibly a cure all. She also told me that they EXPIRE, forcing you to buy a replacement every 6 months. My inner skeptic was all over this development. Of course, there is no visible means to tell and they are instructed to keep track of when they bought them. So I asked, "How do you know you aren't being cheated by someone selling used bracelets that won't do anything? Or, assuming you trust your source, how long have they been sitting in a warehouse going bad?" That really gave her pause. –  JohnFx Jun 11 '11 at 2:43

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up vote 26 down vote accepted

This is an excellent opportunity to practice grass roots skepticism. Ask yourself: By what mechanism is this supposed to work? How does the proposed mechanism align with what we know about science, biology, physics, etc.? Also, you may be interested to know that in some countries, Power Balance must state that they have no actual scientific backing for their claims. The Placebo band is just as effective, and much cheaper.

What sort of demo was done at the expo? Was it Applied Kinesiology by any chance? That is a well known bit of deliberate deception.

A quote from the first link (EMPHASIS MINE):

Power Balance bracelets promise to improve balance, strength and flexibility and feature some lofty endorsers: Shaquille O’Neal, Drew Brees and Nicole Branagh, an Olympian from the University of Minnesota. Yet the maker of the $30 bracelets admitted this week that there’s no scientific evidence that the things actually work.

The producers of Power Balance bracelets have sold them by the millions around the globe. They adorn the celebrity wrists of Robert de Niro and Kate Middleton, among others. The hologram-embedded rubbery bracelets “work with your body’s natural energy field” in ways similar to “concepts behind many Eastern philosophies,” the Power Balance website explains.

These claims got the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which compelled Power Balance to issue a letter that was published in various media outlets Down Under.

“We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims,” the company wrote. “Therefore we engaged in misleading conduct.”

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Applied Kinesiology = an old carnie trick but AK sounds so much better. –  Francis Shanahan Mar 11 '11 at 22:09
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+1 Good answer. You might want to extract the relevant quotes from your first link, in the event that link goes dead in the future. Let's future-proof your answer. –  Borror0 Mar 12 '11 at 1:55
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Don't want to make the answer too long, but I'll see what I can do with it. Oh, and found another relevant link that is even better. –  Larian LeQuella Mar 12 '11 at 2:14
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Yeah, that was exactly the same demo they did with me. They were convincing but I was pretty sure it was a scam. –  Matthew Mar 14 '11 at 12:35
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FWIW, science doe NOT start with "by what mechanism does this work?". It begins with "Is there a noticeable, repeatable, significant effect that I can test?". Only once it is determined there IS something to look into can we start looking into what the mechanism is. –  fred Jun 19 '11 at 17:40

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