I was visiting a friend of mine recently and I noticed one of those rubber bracelets I see all the time sitting on his table. I didn’t know what group or organization it was for so I picked it up and started looking at it. That was when my friend told me it was a power balance bracelet that he got as a gift. He told me it was supposed to work by pressing a magnet against the veins and arteries in the underside of the wrist to improve strength and balance. I don’t even know how to transition from this because just typing it has killed a few brain cells so I’ll just say that my friend thought it sounded kinda stupid but that he also saw a demonstration that seemed to back up the claim and asked me for my opinion.

I was shown this demonstration and I knew that the Power Balance Bracelet was a hoax and how they made it look real before the video ended. The demonstration had the sales man take a volunteer from the street audience and showed them the balance improving powers of the bracelet. This was done by having the volunteer hold their arm out straight and the salesman pushing down on their arm to throw them off balance. The volunteer then puts on the bracelet and repeats the test, only this time they can resist the salesman and keep their balance.

The New Snakeoil

Now before I tell you how this was done and why the Power Balance is a hoax I should tell you how I know what I know. I have always had a love for illusions and “magic.” As a result of this, I have learned alot of little tricks about the human mind and body that can make a person seem magical. One of these tricks is balance manipulation. The salesman of this bracelet used this trick to make the product look like it was working.

When the volunteer, who can be an actual volunteer and not a plant in the audience, puts their arm out the first time the salesman applies pressure to their arm down and away from the center of mass. This guarantees that the person will tip over. After they put the bracelet on, the salesman pushes down and towards the center of mass. This motion pushes the salesman’s weight onto the center of mass of the other person so well that they can genuinely put alot of strength into the push and not topple the volunteer.

The Power Balance is just one more medical hoax out there. So always remember to think critically and learn as much as you can about any new product that makes promises that seem too good to be true.

Edit: I just found out that the bracelets don’t have anything to do with magnets.  It’s actually supposed to work on some kind of energy matrix built into the silicone.  I didn’t think it was possible, but they are even dumber than I thought.