Shonky Award for Power Balance

Consumer advocacy magazine Choice are running their fifth annual, 2010 Shonky Awards.  It’s a kind of name and shame exercise.  It’s with great pleasure I announce that one of the Australian Skeptics’ and Victorian Skeptics’ favorite products has gained a Shonky – the Power Balance band.

Congratulations to Power Balance on wining this prestigious award (with tongue firmly in cheek).

As any Skeptic will tell you, the $2 Placebo Band works just as well as the $60 Power Balance band.  They look very similar and are made from identical materials.

The Australian Skeptics and Placebo Band got a nice mention at the award ceremony, many thanks to Choice for their efforts.

Previous Vic Skeptics posts about magical rubber bands:

Power Balance … or Placebo?

Video fest: the Power Balance wrist band and the arm press

Mal

One Response to Shonky Award for Power Balance

  1. Paul Gallagher says:

    Tally Ho to CHOICE once again.

    Added to the shellacking ||2 || given to Pharmacy Diet Plans in early 2009 this warms the cockels of my heart.

    Which is a nice balance [ahem] to RMIT University’s “Australian-first, and possibly a world-first, university study into”, the aforementioned item of offence that adorns the wrists of the aforementioned gullible.

    My heart cockels went out to Lisa Ham who, writing for The Age on Oct. 26th, resisted the entirely superfluous need to… er, ham it up, being able to inform us with a straight face and impending – quite legal – remuneration that, “Three researchers, all chiropractors by trade, are completing the study, which will test the bands on at least 40 healthy volunteers to determine if they have any effect on balance and stability”.

    Uh, huh. “Trade”. I love that bit.

    The article continued, “Chief investigator Dr Simon Brice said the pilot project was developed in response to clinical experience of chiropractic patients seeking advice on the bands”.

    What a spectacular piece of Peacock imbibed balderdash. A chap who’s in the habit of wrenching necks in a torsion pivot at close to the speed of sound or inflicting force upon the lumbar spines of contorted bodies, adorns himself with the title “Chief investigator” and reckons when people he charges handsome fees for the privilege ask about magic holograms, it’s “clinical experience”.

    Righty Ho. Carry on…

    “Patients with neurological conditions that affect their balance and athletes seeking an extra edge were asking us whether these bands could help them,” Dr Brice said.

    Dr. Brice could simplify the entire “Australian-first, and possibly a world-first, university study”, and simply answer “No”. But we all know that’s not going to happen. Amateur athletes might benefit from paid sponsorship, but that’s mighty dubious at present.

    Though, if the “neurological condition” involves the symptom ataxia and the patient cuts up a number of these worthless Power Balance bands to make a harness to strap about a hundred or more grams to their wrist, the shaking and poor coordination can be impressively reduced. This would then open the way to gradually reducing the weight as proprioceptive feedback becomes more specific improving movement over time. If not, use as a therapeutic aid so that the patient doesn’t warm the cockels of their heart by spilling coffee or poke out an eye when aiming to scratch the nose is an option. But of course, that’s just silly old real therapy without pretty “mylar holograms”.

    I went on to read…

    The university has carried out “double blind” tests on its volunteers, using a computerised dynamic posturography device that measures balance and stability.

    Which means the Power Balance band must be so potentially revolutionary that a good old trusty “machine that goes Bing!”, just doesn’t suffice.

    “Basically we’ve tested them with a real one, with nothing and then with a fake one and then we reverse the order,” Dr Brice said.

    Hey. Didn’t we already do something just as valid..? Isn’t that published… here?

    The tests are repeated in a different order one week from the initial assessment.

    Oh. That’s… pointless. Then, things got even stranger for the “My Small Business” section of The Age. I can imagine Larissa biting her tongue.

    Dr Brice said the study would investigate whether the bands had any effect, positive or otherwise.

    “Anything that has the potential to do something so good … then it has the potential of not being so good in some people,” he said.

    Um, okay. Yin and Yang nonsense aside, is he floating the possibility of a Wolverine or Spider-Man leaping from the top levels of RMIT? Perhaps the computerised dynamic posturography device works like the transporter used in The Fly, and we’ll get to see a grotesquely transformed human with an indestructible silicone hand and a mylar hologram head whose facial features, skull and brain change colour and dimension depending on the angle of view!

    Regardless of the wonders, or not, to be discovered by our funding and reputation hungry masters of the “Trade”, let us hope they use truly do their powers to do “something so good”, and not evil. Larissa did kindly include;

    Meanwhile the bands have today gained a dubious honour, being named among eight companies and products in the 2010 Shonky Awards, handed out by consumer group Choice.

    Indeed.

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