Power Balance: the End of a Shonky Fad

5 May, 2011

What can we learn from the short history of the Power Balance wrist bands in Australia?  It was a pseudo science fad that the Australian Skeptics played a part in ending.

The recent ACCC threat to prosecute retailers who continued to sell them has had an immediate chill effect.

Sports shops, health shops and retailers of all kinds have now removed Power Balance wrist bands from shelves and counters all over Australia.

How did it happen?  Who’s behind it?  Can we do the same to (insert your favourite pseudo science product here)?

What follows is a potted history of the end of the Power Balance fad.  (If you disagree or have more to add please make a comment below.)

How did it all start?

2007 (USA)

Two young entrepreneurial brothers, in Orange County California, Troy Rodarmel and Josh Rodarmel started the company in early 2007.

The business model is quite straight forward: design colourful, stylish wrist bands that can be manufactured very cheaply in China and sell them locally at a much higher price.  Market the bands by making health and technology claims and Read the rest of this entry »


A Skeptic’s Guide to Firewalking

26 September, 2010

This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet.
The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded here: http://www.skeptics.com.au/resources/educational/ or by clicking on the “Useful Info” link at the top of this page.

What is firewalking?

Typically, firewalking involves walking with bare feet across a level bed of hot glowing coals, the remnant of a wood fire. On the Pacific Islands, heated stones are substituted for coals. Read the rest of this entry »


Superheros Are Amongst Us!

20 September, 2010

by Lucas Randall (aka Codenix)

I used to think superheros were the domain of fiction, existing only in comic-books and on film, their powers limited to battling their super-villain foe, equally the domain of fiction. I didn’t realise superheros and super-villains are actually real, living amongst us and affecting our lives in very real ways. Read the rest of this entry »


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

16 August, 2010

It appears that some dubious marketing tools are being employed in the sale of the Power Balance wrist band.

First is the use of celebrity endorsement.  This practice is unfortunately all too common.  Celebrities don’t appear to be any better at critical thinking than your average Joe (or Jo) in the street.

The second dubious practice is the use of physical tests that aren’t objective.  The method of pressing down on someone’s arm to test muscle strength can easily be manipulated (either deliberately or mistakenly) by the person doing the pressing.  This methodology has been around for quite some time and is known as “Applied Kinesiology”.  This is rather difficult to describe in writing.  Fortunately Richard Saunders has put together an excellent video that shows you everything you need to know.


Now, check out this uncritical video review of the Power Balance wrist band.  In this video a Read the rest of this entry »


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