We’re really stoked to be able to say that the Surf Simply online store is now open. Just in time for Christmas. Just go to www.CafePress.com/SurfSimply and you can buy everything the discerning Surf Simply guest could possibly desire. Well perhaps not everything, but you can buy T-shirts, hoodies and hats as well as iPad cases, iPhone covers, mugs, boxers and bags!
So if you are concerned about the fact that you have too much money and not enough awesome Surf Simply paraphernalia then don’t panic.
A new magical bracelet is out and, as it’s been a while since our debunking of the Power Balance bands, we thought it was time to give the “iRenew” bracelet a good smashing too. More importantly though this post should serve to sharpen your scam detectors.
A good rule of thumb with these things is that the more plausible the mechanism, then the less evidence you need, and vice verser. A simple and brilliant rule. For example:
If I told you that I flew to the beach this morning like superman. It’s so utterly implausible that you would need overwhelming evidence before you believed me.
If I told you that I hopped the 800m to the beach carrying 4 longboards on my head, then you would be sensible to remain skeptical until I provided at least some evidence, perhaps a photo or third party corroboration.
However, if I told you that I drove to the beach this morning, then it would be reasonable of you to take me at my word. It’s highly plausible, so you don’t need much evidence.
The iRenew bracelet has no plausible mechanism so you’re going to need overwhelming evidence and, of course (just like the Power Balance band) there’s none. If you think it works for you, it doesn’t. If you think there’s no harm in a placebo then it’s worth bearing in mind that things which have a real effect also have a placebo effect too, like swim training, stretching or a new surfboard. So use something real. If you still really want one then please buy a Placebo Band from the Skeptic Bros for $2 instead. You’ll save yourself $28 and your money goes towards better science education rather than to a con man.
I love these scams because of the language used to make the product sound ‘scientific’. Here they’re talking about ‘the bodies natural frequencies’. ‘Frequency’ is a characteristic of something, just like color. Frequency means ‘how often something happens’. But what thing’s frequency are they talking about? The “body’s” frequency? So they mean “how often the body happens”. Err… yer right.
While all our instructors commit most of their year to teaching at Surf Simply, some of them continue to work on their own projects in their months off. When Kerianne isn’t teaching surf lessons and yoga for us, she’s developing her own business, Kerianne Kreger Yoga Expeditions, which includes Yoga classes, Workshops, Retreats and Yoga Teacher Training courses.
Having played NCAA Division 1 Volleyball, Kerianne knows how important it is to keep your body free from pain. She often uses her qualifications as a 500 Hr RYT and an Ayurvedic Health Educator as well as her experience in gym based fitness therapy, to help Surf Simply guests work through injuries during their stay with us. She also is great at planning goal specific, on going health and fitness regimes.
On her days off in Nosara, she teaches Vinyasa flow classes and progressional workshops at the Yoga House, a near by studio. When she heads home to California for the Costa Rican wet season in September and October, she will be hosting a Yoga Expedition in Avila Valley, CA. This particular trip, at the end of October, entails a three day, two night All Levels Yoga Retreat with yoga, hiking, massage, rest and relaxation at the Sycamore Mineral Springs, on the Central Coast of California.
To be honest we’re never quite sure where she gets all her energy from. For more information about the retreat, click here.
A few weeks ago we wrote a blog pointing out a few of the red flags which told us that Power Balance bracelets are a con. The post ended up being the most viewed blog we’ve ever done.
Ever the defender of science and reason, Ru has been campaigning against the scam at every opportunity. So this morning he woke to be greeted by the best birthday present he could have hoped for: Power Balance have been ordered to cease all false advertising claims in Australia and offer refunds to anyone who has purchased one of the bracelets. (Read more here…)
Want an idea for a last minute Christmas present? Australia’s Skeptics Bros have launched the $2 Placebo Band (above) to compete with the $60 dollar originals. We love that Power Balance’s UK website points out quite correctly that “…fakes do not work.” (Insert own joke here).
Remember folks if you ever see a surf product (or any product) being sold using “Applied Kinesiology” (which is the sciencey sounding name for the balance “test” used to sell Power Balance bands) then you can bet your last dollar that it’s gonna be a scam. If you’ve been fooled by it in the past then don’t worry, you’re in good company: Robert de Niro, David Beckham, Leonardo De Caprio, P Diddy and Ronaldo, among others, have been taking in by the con. Here’s how it works…
Still convinced that the Power Balance band works for you? It’s true that the placebo effect is measurable but remember that you also get a placebo effect from something which also has a real effect. So call the refund line on 1800 733 436 between 9am and 5pm, get your money back and buy one of the following instead:
- Taylor Knox’s Surf Exercises DVD
- An Indo Board
- Some Hyperstretch Board Shorts
- Membership at your local swimming pool
- Gym membership
- A baby sitter for the afternoon while you go surfing
- Two great surf movies to watch over and over again
- A banged up old short board for learning to duck dive on
- A banged up old long board for distance paddling on a flat days or lakes
During today’s 2010 RipCurl Search event there were a lot of adverts for ‘Power Balance’ products. This time legendary Hawaii surfer, Bruce Irons was endorsing the bracelets and so we thought that the incredible claims made by the company warranted some objective investigation.
Carl Sagan once pointed out that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. For example if a friend tells you that there is an ice cube in the road, you would probably believe them but if they told you there was an iceberg in the road, you would want to see for yourself. So first we need to establish the claims made by Power Balance. Are they extraordinary and how good is the evidence to support them?
Their website says that the human body has an ‘energy field’ and that this energy field can be affected by a hologram. Not only that but the hologram affects the energy field in a way which increase a person’s balance, strength and flexibility. These are actually game changing claims which throw out the window the entire foundation of medical science. However, to be fair, this doesn’t mean that the claims are not true. It just means they need to produce better evidence than the body of evidence which already exists to the contrary (which, in this case, is massive).
Strangely then that there is no evidence at all on their website, apart from the anecdotal reports on their testimonial’s page. “What’s wrong with anecdotal evidence?” I hear you say. The quality of the evidence depends largely on the size of the study group. The bigger the group, the more useful the data. An anecdote is effectively just an uncontrolled, unblinded study group of… one. Not the kind of thing which rocks the scientific community. That’s why it’s irrelevant that Bruce Irons says it works for him.
So Power Balance products fall into the same category as physic reading, homeopathy and faith healing. There’s no plausible mechanism going on and no good quality data to support the claims being made. When the user has a positive experience, the product gets the credit. If the user does not, then they either believe that they need more of the product or that they would have been worse off without it. It’s a win/win for the guy running the scam. In one form or another, it’s a scam which has been around for thousands of years and has fooled a lot of people into doing some very silly things. It’s just as well we’ve got the good ol’ scientific method to help us navigate the nonsense.
Not convinced? Australia’s Today Tonight program got uncharacteristically scientific and performed a blinded test on the Power Balance bracelets and as soon as no one knew where the hologram was (surprise surprise) it stopped working.
The defense offered by Power Balance’s proponents is the classic logical fallacy of “Argument By Volume” (i.e. lots of people think it, therefore it must be true). An argument by volume makes no sense as many people in the world hold contradicting beliefs and so logically huge numbers of people can be (are often are) wrong about stuff. Since we’re getting into logical fallacies, another one worth noting is the “Argument From Authority” (i.e. Bruce Irons says it so it must be true).
Does it work then? In a word …no. There’s no magical shortcuts I’m afraid. You’d do far better to spend $30 on Taylor Knox’s surf exercises DVD than flush away $60 on a Power Balance bracelet. So it was a disillusioned Ru that sadly took down the Bruce Irons poster from the wall of the Surf Simply offices …still not to worry there are plenty more surfers in the sea.
While researching the Power Balance bracelet, we stumbled across this hilarious poem about pseudosciences by Australian comedian Tim Minchin and we thought you might like it too. Enjoy…