During May’s “Bad Technology” Skeptics In The Pub event, we performed a successful onstage demonstration of the simple deceptive trick behind the mall ‘balance tests’ you see on infomercials. Full disclosure: I have never seen this show, it was the first search result on youtube, and cannot justify my tingling skeptical sense (perhaps because it reminds me of Dr. Oz). In any case, this youtube edit was a terrible example of misleading entertainment wearing scrubs:

“This isn’t science per se.” and “The science isn’t there with these bracelets.” are both massive red flags. You are both admitting to your show not adhering to basic testing principles such as the gold-standard double-blind, and also admitting that nobody has scientifically proven that these bands work at all. Then my favorite misleading statement: “That mind-body connection is a legitimate factor in performance.” before a more skeptical-sounding doctor steps in with “It’s called the placebo effect.” which is still missing the point. It is not a placebo effect, the illusion of better balanace is an intentional deception on the part of the salesman.

To clear this up completely, ‘holograms’ ‘magnets’ and ‘natural frequencies’ do not have any effect on the human body. Neither do rubber bracelets. When performing the ‘balance test’ as seen in parts of the video above, snake-oil-salesmen pull the arm down and at an imperceptible angle AWAY from the body, just enough to pull a potential customer off balance. Then, with the bracelet on, they pull down and at an imperceptible angle TOWARDS the body, which allows the customer to remain balanced despite pulling downward with their full body weight.

The angle needed to pull a person past their center of gravity is so slight that even our skeptical volunteers onstage weren’t able to detect when I handed them a ‘magic balance spoon’ and performed the same trick. Tipped off by skeptics in 2010, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission cracked down on false claims being made by the Power Balance brand, who’s CEO later admitted to engaging in misleading conduct.

↓ Transcript
ROB
Hey mitch, is the team ready for playoffs?
MITCH
Yeah, if Billy would MOVE HIS ASS!.

MITCH
Plus, the school sprung for these balance enhancing bracelets.
ROB
How do they work?

MITCH
Its has holograms that supposedly improve balance.
ROB
And you think they're working?

MITCH
Hell if I know, They're standing on ice!
ROB
Good point.

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