Skeptic returns from TAM 2012 to find “Authentic” Power Balance Wristbands email: —Let’s Boo the Woo!Friday, July 20th, 2012
Quoted from ScienceBlogs:
So what is woo?
If I had to boil it down, I’d define woo as beliefs that clearly demonstrate magical thinking, uncritical acceptance of things for which no good evidence exists. This includes, but is not limited to, psychic phenomenon, ghosts, the paranormal, “energy healing,” the use of “colon cleansing” and “liver cleansing” to rid oneself of “toxins,” homeopathy (especially quantum homeopathy), and a wide variety of other mystical and pseudoscientific beliefs. Woo is resistant to reason.
Just back from TAM 2012 (The Amazing Meeting) and a Groupon ad for the “Authentic” Power Balance Wristbands appeared in my Email. There will be more about TAM 2012 tomorrow but right now let’s talk about the wristbands. If you absolutely need to wear one of these you can get them HERE for $4. They aren’t “Authentic” Power Balance Wristbands but they are exactly the same thing from the same manufacturer and work just as well (wink-wink-nudge-nudge). They are called “Placebo Bands.” If you clicked on the link and read the material presented by the SkepticBros, you’ll have some idea about how the purveyors of the “Authentic” Power Balance Wristbands use trickery to convince the unsuspecting public that they really work to improve balance, strength, and flexibility. They could make a whole host of other claims but those are the ones they tend to demonstrate on willing subjects. Remember, these are stage magician tricks that they are using to steal from gullible people.
The “Athentic” Power Balance Wristbands cost pennies to make and the maker ADMITS that the bands are worthless. A representative of Power Balance Australia issued a statement that read in part, “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims. Therefore we engaged in misleading conduct.”
In this whack-a-mole world we live in, there is no way to keep the woo at check! ALL of the money made by the Australian company was returned to their customers and now the company is bankrupt. Every purchaser received the purchase price along with an additional $5 for shipping. Yet here they are attempting to make another run at preying on the gullible in search of profit.
Tomorrow, you’ll get to read about my experience at TAM 2012 but I won’t be covering the post TAM “Million Dollar Challenge.” I’ll do that here and now.
The JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) Million Dollar Challenge has an interesting history and some form of the challenge has been in existence since 1968. On the JREF site you’ll find the following short statement:
The Foundation is committed to providing reliable information about paranormal claims. It both supports and conducts original research into such claims.
At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the “applicant” becomes a “claimant.”
To date, no one has passed the preliminary tests.
You can also find the “Log of Applicants.” Not every applicant that ever attempted the challenge is listed but there are quite a few and there is quite a variety of paranormal claims being made. Check it out.
Here is where serendipity comes in…I just received an ad for a Power Balance Wristband and the post TAM “Million Dollar Challenge” was aimed at demonstrating a device similar to the “Authentic” Power Balance Wristband. The name of the claimant was Andrew Needles. He’s got a website selling his devices. Click HERE if you’d like to see Andrew attempting to demonstrate his “Dynactiv SR Standard.” It is only 50 seconds long but imagine what it was like to sit in the audience and watching him try out his device against a placebo using 10 different test subjects while remaining perfectly quiet. He had to be able to determine that his band was in play 17 out of 20 attempts but after the first 10 attempts he only had 4 correct determinations. Originally, it was agreed that he would go through all 20 trials but after 10 he threw in the towel. After it was all over, Banachek, the test director asks him if he felt that his device was effective. Andew didn’t miss a beat and proceeded to try and sell his magic bracelet to a room full of Skeptics that just saw him fail more times than he succeeded. Yes, yes he did!
Bottom line: If you think you’ve got a paranormal ability and can prove it under scientific conditions, there are a million dollars waiting to be claimed.