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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Now taking requests. Please comment.

I'm still around folks, just trying to make a living, so unfortunately, the blog had to be put on the backburner for a bit.  I do have a question for anyone that is still reading this.  What topics are YOU interested in?  Cryptozoology, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, urban legends, mythology, or something I've missed?  Let me know and I'll start researching and writing.  I've got so many ideas that they are just jumbling up and I don't know where to start, so I'm asking for your help.  Let me know what areas you're interested in, and I'll start covering them.  Thanks, and until next time, be good, be skeptical, and be rational.

Skeptical Okie

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cured by vibrating jewelry?

Hey folks, how have you been.  Yes, I'm still alive, just been very busy with work, and family.  The list of things  I want to talk about has grown to the point I'm having to cull a few items because everyone else has already covered them pretty thoroughly.  I do have a topic today that falls under the banner of Project Bullshit!  What I want to talk about today are the:

Tuning Element Bracelets TM  (dun dun dunnnnn).  (The story is a bit long, so if you want, skip down to the claims and background.)

During a local county fair, I saw this booth displaying a lot of bracelets.  It had a very nice background, a pretty display case, and was manned by an elderly couple.  I saw this booth for 3 days straight.  (I'm not a fair junkie, I was helping my wife with her civic group booth.)  By the last day of the fair, I had probably seen 50-75 people talk to these folks, and at least half of them bought things.  I went over there and took one of their brochures and looked it over.  (I'll go into the details of the pamphlet later)  The older gentleman saw me walking around and actually called me over to him.  Curious as always, I went to see what he was about.  He looked me in the eye and asked if I occasionally have pain in my knees, mainly my left.  I answered honestly and told him yes I do.  In my head, I was thinking, "Great, he's going to cold read me.  This could be fun."  Full disclosure, about 2 years ago, I broke my kneecap and femur in a bovine related accident (not like that!), and I've had problems and pain since then with my left knee, including a mild to severe limp. I had been helping my wife with her booth, which was next to the "healing bracelets" booth,  for the last 3 days, and my looks are a bit distinctive, so the people had plenty of opportunities to witness me limping around.  The fellow that ran the booth sat me down in a surprisingly comfortable chair and began his sales pitch.  He told me that both he and his wife suffered from arthritis pain for years until they discovered these bracelets.  They were so impressed with them that they became salespeople for the company.  I had noticed the woman wearing one, and I realized while talking to him that his watchband was actually one of these bracelets.  (I'm not going to include any images because the manufacturer wouldn't give me permission by the time I published this.)  These bracelets are "vibrationally harmonized with the Earth" to help with healing.  When I asked him what the rate of vibration was, he looked at me and informed me that he wasn't completely sure (honesty right off the bat? Wow!) and even if he knew, it was proprietary information.  I did try to find out what the Earths frequency is supposed to be, and most of what I was able to find comes from New Age sites, so they were full of word salad, so as of right now, I just have to saw I don't know.  While I was sitting there and this purveyor of Woo was giving me anecdotes and testimonials, he had his wife open the case, pull out a rather attractive black metal bracelet, and he set it right above my knee.  He informed me it would take about 10 minutes to begin to take effect.  I was fine with this because, as I said, I'm a curious person, so we started talking about the properties of the bracelets.  During this conversation, I noticed almost immediately that he was trying to get medical history from me by making statements like "Most people with knee problems have hip and back problems too." and "A lot of guys your age get muscle pain."  I'm familiar enough with these tactics that I went along with them to see what he would do.  And wouldn't you know it, he basically took the info I gave him and fed it back to me, saying this "scientifically balanced" bracelet could help with my problems.  He also mentioned it could help with cancer, but because of the "damned" FDA, they can't actually say it will cure anything. (I'll discuss the actual claims in a bit.)  I asked how the bracelets were harmonized with the Earth, how they stayed in this state, as well as asking if there was any documented evidence of efficacy.  He informed me, once again that the entire process was proprietary, and the only evidence he could offer was more testimonials. I asked him what they were made from and he told me they were stainless steel.  the ones that aren't silver are plated in other metals.  I then asked about the prices.  The cheap ones, the plain silver ones with no adornments cost about $75.  The more elaborate ones, with the different coatings and laser engraved images, cost up to $300.  I think I just blinked at him when he casually gave me the prices.  About this time, he seemed to feel that the sales pitch wasn't working, so he went the friendly route.  He began asking me about what I do for a living, if I have a wife and children, if I have any hobbies, etc.  I told him I do animal control, as well as farm work for a living. Yes, I have a wife and child, at which point he asked me if she worked.  I said yes, she's a bio-chemical researcher.  The look on his face at this statement was odd enough, I had a hard time not laughing.  He then asked me about my hobbies.  I said reading, writing a blog, outdoor activities, and I'm part of a skeptical group.  As soon as I said this, the 10 minutes suddenly finished. (It was actually closer to 20)  He removed the bracelet and asked if I had any pain.  I told him honestly no at that moment.  He then had me stand up.  Upon doing so, my knee popped loudly enough to be heard from several feet away ( a normal occurrence if I've been sitting or standing for a while.)  He told me that sometimes it takes a while for the effect to be noticeable, and I should go ahead and buy one.  I told him I'd have to talk to my wife first, and I left thinking I need to write about this.

The Claims:

The overall claim of this particular type of product is that can help "bring our body back to it's natural frequency"  The manufacturer states that electromagnetic radiation  disrupts our bodies natural frequency, which in turn pulls the protons in our cells  out of their natural alignment and causes cellular dysfunction. (Waiter, I'll have the word salad with the house dressing, thank you.)  The brochure says that the bracelet will realign the protons so they spin or resonate in harmony.  It also claims that our "electronic technology" (and I have no idea why they have that in quotation marks) has hidden "pollutants" (More quotation marks) and our bodies absorb these.  Care to guess the pollutants that the maker of these bracelets is concerned about?  EMF's(Electrical magnetic fields) and ELF's (Extremely low frequencies).   According to the brochure, these are emitted from different tech, and when the body gets hit by these waves, to paraphrase them,it just completely fu!&s us up.  The top of the paper has the words Got Pain?  in 21/2 inch letters, with the following conditions:
  • Arthtitis                                            
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Muscular Pain
  • Stress
  • Hip Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Colds/Sickness
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Joint Pain
  • And many More


Under this, it has Need help with? followed by:

  • Quality of Sleep
  • Range of Motion
  • Better Athletic Abilities
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Less Snoring
  • Coordination
  • Better Golf Average
  • Faster Recovery Time
  • Strength
  • Energy
  • And Much More

And of course at the bottom, it has the usual disclaimers about going to your doctor for health issues, this product has not been evaluated by the FDA, and results may vary.  As someone with knee pain and ADHD, if one product could take care of these, I would be overjoyed.  The problem is, to quote the Sawbones podcast, "If it sounds like a cure-all, it cures nothing".  A lot of the various pains that they list have to do with joints or muscular damage, while balance is controlled by the inner ear, and ADHD is a neurological issue.  No single thing can treat three very different systems.

How it works:
This product is supposed to work based on the principles of harmonic balance.  According to their website,(and no, I'm not going to link to them)  these ideas were created by Georges Lakhovsky and  W.O Schumann.  Lakhovsky created a machine called the Multi Wave Oscillator in the 30's and Schumann is know for Schumann Frequencies.  Both of these men's ideas are popular in alternative medicine as a means to treat people of various problems.  They both have too much history to go into here.  The companies description of what their product does is overly vague and almost magical sounding.  The problems it is supposed to treat, as well as their supposed initial causes are extremely similar to the  T-28 3G/4G Whole House Protection device I wrote about a while back.  It's supposed to protect you from EMF's and ELF's, which in turn are supposed to slowly damage every part of your body at the cellular level.  Every description of how this item works is so vague I can't tell if they are talking about a bracelet or pasta salad.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's supposed to work by magic and wishful thinking.  And your money.

The Problems:
The main problem with this product, much like the infamous Power Band and the  T-28 3G/4G Whole House Protection device, is that they just DO NOT WORK!  No one item can have a beneficial effect on every system (skeletal, nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, etc.) at once.  If you look at actual medication, or medical therapies, while they have a beneficial effect on the given system that they treat, if you look at the possible side effects, they normally effect other systems that have a direct effect on each other..  Wearing something on your wrist will not have a effect on ADHD, unless it's shiny and can actually help you keep your focus.  The same product won't help with a cold and give you a better golf average. Another problem is how the hell do they know what frequency the human body is supposed to have, and who determined what is in harmony with the planet?  Do things in nature have the same frequencies?  Does pumice vibrate at the same rate as uranium, and does that vibrate at the same rate as wood?

Conclusion:
Do I really need to say it?  Okay, you asked for it, so I'm duty bound to do it.  This bracelet, while it actually is good looking, and I wouldn't mind wearing one for aesthetic reasons, it doesn't treat anything except for a heavy wallet or purse.  A piece of metal on any part of your body, unless it's a brace for a joint or back, won't treat a single medical issue, let alone everything under the sun.  When you consider that in 3 days I saw 30-40  people buying these at a minimum of $75 each, and I found very similar looking items at Wal Mart for $10 the next day, someone made out like a bandit.  Granted, I don't know the companies business model, and I'm not 100% positive what the markup is on these, but it's probably still a good chunk of money.

Until next time, Be Good, Be Skeptical, and Be sure you turned the stove off before you leave.

The Skeptical Okie