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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Phiten Mad

by Guy McCardle

October 18, 2011

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Donate Maybe I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I just discovered the magic of Phiten (pronounced fightin') necklaces. With the World Series here, I've been wondering what some of the players have been wearing around their necks. They can't all have kids in first grade making them pukka shell necklaces, can they? Turns out some of them have lucrative endorsement contracts with Phiten Industries, the makers of titanium infused "wellness" products.

The online material promoting the Phiten wellness products is the written equivalent of mumbling, that is, the letters and sounds are there, but it doesn't really say anything. For example, their website states "our products add a personal flair and unique energy to your game- on the field or off". The energy they are talking about is supposedly new-age energy. The Phiten corporate philosophy is one of "health, energy and well-being". In their FAQ section one of the questions asks if the product is safe for women and children. Here is their reply:
"We're not aware of Phiten products having harmful effects on children or pregnant women, although we do recommend keeping certain Phiten products with small parts away from children, as it may be a choking hazard. Phiten is a health and wellness product designed for healthy consumers. We always recommend consulting your physician if you have any questions."
There's your answer, as long as you don't eat it you should be OK. It is interesting that they say they sell health and fitness products designed for healthy people. Makes me wonder what would happen if a sick person would wear one. Dig a little deeper and you will find this page on research and evidence of efficacy on the site of an authorized Phiten reseller. They state that their product is nothing like their competitor's sham power bracelet that uses magnets. Their product is different. It makes use of embedded titanium.

The page goes on to basically bad-mouth science. Please read this for yourself.
"There is currently a fascinating debate and no little consternation in the scientific community over a phenomenon sometimes called the "decline effect" which shows that previously rigorously proven scientific data often becomes increasingly impossible to replicate. As Jonah Lehrer writes in The New Yorker: "We like to pretend that our (scientific) experiments define the truth for us. But that's often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn't mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn't mean it's true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe."

And so, in the absence of solid scientific proof, we invite you to perform your own, personal experiment. Try a Phiten product. If it doesn't do what you want it to do, we will gladly accept it back and refund your money. Our current rate of return is less than 2%."
There you have it, ignore the lack of scientific proof and common sense ...just try one.

I suspect most players wear these necklaces because most other players do, so why not? Baseball players are a superstitious lot. Fans, especially kids, like to emulate the players. Consider this anecdote from an employee of a popular sporting goods store in the US.
"I work at Sports Authority and these dumb necklaces are the MOST stolen item in the store. The sell for about 30 dollars but I've never seen a person actually buy one. I've asked everyone in the store from the District Manager on down and nobody has a clue what they do. These things are a scam of the first order and I'm actually glad they are stolen so much. The company attempting to peddle this crap deserves it. Seriously who in their right mind would believe wearing a necklace made of titanium would enhance any of your physical abilities? Only braindead teenagers would fall for that and they don't have any money which is why they get stolen so much."
I have no problem with the Phiten necklaces if they are sold purely as a fashion item. I'm sure they would still sell well. The trouble is when the manufacturer has the audacity to insinuate that the item will improve the wearers' performance and/or health. That is just nonsense. Oh, did I mention that they were invented by a chiropractor? Enough said.

by Guy McCardle

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