Daily Maverick Morality Science

PowerBalance and the war on woo

As submitted to The Daily Maverick

There is a pestilence of woo sweeping the land. While some versions of pseudoscience, mysticism and general quackery are fairly constant insults to our sensibilities (Rhonda Byrne, Oprah, homeopathy, and chiropractic treatment are examples), others seem to go in and out of fashion like spinning tops and yo-yo’s used to do.

Morality Science

T4ProBalance – if you want headaches, burns and allergies

As many of you would know, I recently (on behalf of the Free Society Institute) submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding PowerBalance bracelets and their particular brand of woo. Next up should surely be the scamsters who sell T4 ProBalance bracelets, who offer you 4 “technologies” in their magic bracelet. Four whole technologies, starting at just R369! Here’s what you get:

  • Bioenergetic scalar energy
  • 1200 negative ions
  • 100% surgical silicone
  • Antitstatic [sic]

That “antitstatic” alone is surely worth the price. But if you’re still not convinced, take a look at what the “benefits of T4 Pro Balance bracelets are“:

Alongside “power”, “focus” and “recovery”, they offer “burns”, “allergies” and “fatigue”. Oh, and don’t forget that “depression” you’ve been yearning for. Their website is a bit light on independent double-blind studies (i.e. there are none), so it’s unclear whether these bracelets are a good thing to wear on balance. But I suppose we have to assume that you get enough of the good stuff to outweigh those scarier-sounding “benefits”.

Or, alternately, what this shows is that they are simply too lazy, exploitative, incompetent or stupid to worry about details like having a poorly edited website. When you have fans defending the product saying things like “mabey [sic]you should look into something called science”, it seems that it doesn’t really matter what the website says. As P.T. Barnum reminded us, “there’s a sucker born every minute”, and those who sell these magic bracelets will keep on shamelessly exploiting those suckers for as long as they are able.

Daily Maverick Politics

Julius Malema is The Man

Originally published in The Daily Maverick.

Julius Malema likes to present himself as “working class”. He still identifies himself as a product of that class, despite the fact that the cost of his watch alone would equal the average annual income of roughly 20 working-class black South Africans.

How then are we to make sense of his self-proclaimed solidarity with people who struggle to feed themselves? South Africa remains a country of great inequalities and class distinctions linger. Are three houses and five cars required to escape the label of “working class”, instead of Malema’s two houses and three cars (according to reports)?