Despite my general left-leanings I’ve been on-the-whole okay with National’s John Key as our Prime Minister. Backing down in the face of opposition to mining our national parks? Okay, that was cool: the initial idea was bad, but then you showed you could listen to the public and admit mistakes. And the general straight-talking profile you project – sure, that’s a crafted persona – but hey, it’s a refreshing one, and I’m okay with it. But when the Prime Minister of New Zealand appeared at a public event wearing a freaking “power balance band” last week? That – THAT just made me think what…
Power balance bands are silicon wristbands with a hologram sticker on them that, the makers say, “restores your body’s electrical balance and increases balance, core strength and flexibility”. Except they don’t say that, because the makers have been forced to admit they have no proven effects and have offered money back to anyone who’s bought one. Their website no longer mentions anything about the bracelets having a performance-boosting effect, and the above piece of 100% pure fraudulent bullshit can now only be found in the google search preview of the PB website, which is obviously still operating off google’s cached version of the site that the PB lawyers haven’t been able to change.
This change of tack from Power Balance hasn’t stopped them from giving free samples to high profile people, including Mr Key, and the entire NZ rugby sevens team who last night ran in a brilliant victory in the final against England. They were all wearing their balance bands as far as I can see, and no doubt their victory was entirely the result of this.
Okay. Deep breath… I’m feeling a bit better… let’s begin…
This is the bit where probably I should wade through the minefield of pseudo-science claptrap and carefully, reasonably illustrate why these things don’t work – but I’m not going to do that. What we’re going to do is just assume, just assume that you, the person reading this blog, are not an idiot. Because – and I think this is a fair, balanced, logical, yet open-minded statement: ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD BELIEVE POWER BALANCE BANDS DIRECTLY AFFECT PERFORMANCE.
Right? We don’t believe in the healing powers of unicorn urine, or that tinfoil hats are needed to keep the CIA out of your head – and we especially don’t believe that a hologram sticker can make you run faster or be more agile – which brings us to John Key.
Key – the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the leader of this country – is, whether I voted for him or not, the person who represents us to the world. His behaviour reflects on us, his words should represent our country’s position, and any product he endorses should therefore be worthy.
But thinking this – then seeing Key wearing, at a public event, a power balance band that had been gifted to him – leaves me in the uncomfortable position of believing either:
a) that John Key thinks power balance bands have some kind of performance-boosting effect, and that he is therefore a gullible tit, or
b) that John Key, being intelligent, knows that power balance bands have zero effect, but is happy to endorse shonky, misleading, dishonest products.
And I’m not happy with either option