“How ionic” (Panacea jewelry)

JEWELRYIonized jewelry is worn to make a person feel better or to protect them. While it won’t actually do this, it is not harmful unless the wearer thinks it allows them to safely leap off a bridge or impersonate Steve Irwin.

Advertisments claim these products will make the wearer more energetic, athletic, or luckier, or aid them with improved balance, memory, or clarity. Any seeming benefits are the result of post hoc reasoning, confirmation bias, and communal reinforcement. Persons wearing the jewelry ascribe any benefit to having done so. By contrast, if something bad happens while wearing an ionized bracelet, perhaps a complementary necklace is needed. If the person forgets to put it on and nothing bad happens, that will fail to register. But if something bad occurs, they’ll realize they forgot to wear it and figure that’s why it happened.

The jewelry can be made of magnets, metals, plastic, or rubber. They come in many forms: bracelets, pendants, rings, even soccer jerseys, with one publication wondering if this would give teams an unfair advantage a la steroids.

The ionized jewelry industry dresses itself in borrowed robes, using scientific sounding terms that are either made up or misapplied. These terms include alignment, cell frequency, electromagnetic balance, harmonic convergence, oscillation, biomagnetics, electro-conductivity, and vital centers. We also have “Sympathetic Resonance Technology,” which we learn, “decreases energy drains” and “corrects our bodies’ natural electrical fields.” One piece promised “harmony energy balance.” One could put those words in any order and they would mean – or not mean – the same thing.

While these terms are either invented or worthless as applied here, they are also immune from legal charges of fraud since they are untestable and impossible to disprove. The industry adopted this approach after it made false, scientifically-testable claims that led to legal action against it. During the trial, one ionized jewelry business owner conceded he did not know what ionization was, but used the term because it sounded catchy.

Some of the products are marketed for pain relief even though ionized jewelry has failed in every double blind study it has been subjected to. But the confluence of a cheap price, glowing testimonials, and throbbing pain will cause some to give it a try. The discomfort might lessen, but this is coincidental since pain usually fluctuates and the body often heals itself of minor afflictions. There is no connection between pain relief and a positive ion surplus.

While usually content to rest on the gullibility of the uniformed, some take it further with fraudulent demonstrations. One product boasts that it will increase balance. To show this, a subject will be placed with their feet together and arms behind their back, with fingers interlocked. The seller will push down and away from the subject, easily throwing him off balance. Then the jewelry is put on and the magic bracelet dude pushes again on the hands, only this time toward the subject, who remains stationary.

The overarching idea behind ionized jewelry is that good health will be achieved through the proper balance of positive and negative ions in the body. If this were true, sidling across a carpet would make one sick since doing so builds up a static electrical charge. Or people inside a car would be healthier than those standing grounded outside the car (or maybe the other way around).


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