May 11, 2012

Kingston Police Doubles Down on Power Balance


The amount of disappointment I have towards the decisions of the Kingston Polices choice to promote Power Balance is hard to match, but the overwhelming condemnation of their choice should inspire a lot of hope that at least next time they will do a background check into products they put on their website and spend uniformed time selling. 

Kingston Polices twitter responses to Matt Watson shows why there isn't much hope for optimism yet though. Here is a copy of the twitter conversation between the two:

Matt Watson: you're selling those bracelets knowing full well they're advertising false benefits. Shame!

Kingston Police: Oh my, we've already addressed this. Don't endorse any purported effects. Most buy b/c they simply like the look, goes to good cause

Matt Watson: pardon the pun but what a cop-out. Selling them at all is endorsement and contributes to the perception they're effective.

Kingston Police: Pun pardoned. Raised $1,000s for , only you & 1 other has complained in 6 months, selling candy bars worse effect.

Matt Watson: that just goes to show people perceive them as legitimate and don't question the pseduo-science.

Kingston Police: Thanks Matt. No one is forcing you or anyone else to buy them. You're welcome to simply donate $10 to the Special Olympics instead.

Thanks to Matt for arguing pretty well in the 140 character space. The logic and ethics lying behind whoever is representing Kingston Police is completely perverse, they are doubling down with their chips on stupid. Advertising and providing legitimacy for a product that is actively deceiving its buyers was bad enough, but it is only worsened by the horrible logic used to defend their choice. 

There are 3 things that stick out from what was tweeted.

1. By putting a disclaimer Kingston Police can excuse itself as endorsing Power Balance:

This is a complete joke, first of all they advertise effects on their website which includes the statement that the benefits of negative ions (The 'good ions' that are in the Power Balance Band) are  higher levels of focus and concentration, increased feeling of serenity and well being, improved strength, flexibility and balance, elevated relaxation of body and mind, restful sleep, lessened recovery times and an injury or workouts, improved athletic performance, and relief from chronic joint and muscle pain. 

Which is a false list of effects of negative ions and not Power Balance, so even if Kingston Police doesn't support the product it is unclear if they think that the effect of negative ions are as listed above.

Just having to write that list makes me want to look for some chronic joint relief. At least in that state of mind maybe I could begin to understand how listing the benefits of a product on a police webpage and having uniformed officers selling Power Balance bracelets doesn't equate to an endorsement. 

2. It's better than selling candy bars:

Well I'd disagree that supporting a product that actively deceives the buyer is better than selling a product that isn't healthy, the whole thing is a false choice. The choice wasn't between a candy bar or power balance, as Kingston Police points out in their last tweet that says they could, and can still, take donations without the bracelet. 

Personally I wish they had sold Placebo Bands, which have the same hologram that impressed the Police and comes 100% Bullshit free and are a non-profit product.

3. If nobody complains it's alright:

Only you and one other has complained in 6 months.....so what? I guess if a tree murders someone in the forest it doesn't make a sound. Unfortunately, right and wrong doesn't rely on complaints, and whoever is representing the Police surely acts this way in most situations, but from some reason has compartmentalized this instance. 

It's disappointing when you point something out that is clearly wrong and the person just sticks with what they believed before, a phenomena that Chris Mooney does a great job at pointing out in his Point of Inquiry interview

I do remain hopeful that given increased attention and complaints that the Kingston Police will stop advertising Power Bands on their website and stop selling it in uniform.

Feel free to email Chris Mcfie cmcfie@kpf.ca and point it the hypocrisy if you see it in person, although that may be for the brave, as uniformed officers don't have a history of responding well to criticism, no matter how well founded.

Thanks for reading,
-the moral skeptic

May 10, 2012

Kingston Police Selling Power Balance Wristbands

I was aghast as Cost-Co on the weekend, and it had nothing to do with low prices or 50 lbs. bags of dog food. As I was entering the store I saw a strange union set up at a table beside where the cards were flashed to gain entrance. I blinked and took a second look, but, unfortunately, it only made the picture more clear. The Kingston police were selling Power Balance wristbands.

I looked around for the same disbelief that must have sat registered on my face smeared on anyone else, but I didn't see it. I could forgive the lack of awareness for the people around me, but from the police I could only find contempt for their negligence and stupidity.

The police are people who investigate things and are trusted to make good decisions, but any quick search will show that this was a boondoggle from the start. Power Balance wristbands are a rubber bracelet with a hologram in it, that is claimed to improve strength, athleticism and balance, by working with the body's natural energy fields and frequency. The only problem is that it's a known and proven scam.

The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies studied them and found that, "Results indicated that there was no statistically significant mean change in balance performance brought about by either the placebo or the Device." The BBC tested them and the headline of the story explains the conclusion, "Power Balance band is placebo, say experts" and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry took former Olympian Dominique Dawes and 14 other people test them and found that Power Balance bracelets are "A bust".  Look up any independent test of them and see the conclusions.

In fact why even look for independent tests, here is the word from Power Balance themselves, "We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974." which they published in Australia after losing a battle with the trade commission there. Power Balance has also been fined in Italy and the Netherlands for making unverifiable claims. 

All the evidence points to the bracelets being a scam, and also shows that Power Balance is run by a company who actively deceives the public. Why on Earth would the Kingston police support this and even advertise for it on their own website?  They give the disclaimer that,  "Kingston Police dose not guarantee or endorse the effects and benefits claimed from this product." only after listing a clear message that Power Balance would only dream of.

The only redeeming quality is that some of the money goes to help the Special Olympics, which I can tell you as a former Personal Support worker for people with special needs is a great cause. I encourage donations to the Special Olympics, but am dismayed at the Kingston Polices ignorance, negligence, and lack of investigation into a proven swindle. The police are supposed to be protecting the public from things like this, not actively taking part in it.  

In Australia the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ordered Power Balance Australia to refund all customers who feel they were misled by the supposed benefits of Power Balance bracelets and in Canada we have the Police raising money with it....

Thanks for reading,
-the moral skeptic