Sunday, January 08, 2006

Magnets Do Nothing. Buy Our Product Anyway.

For the equestrian seeking that edge on the competition, Barnsby have come to the rescue with the FTS Calming Bridle. This is an ordinary bridle with a magnet in it. This magnet doesn't actually do anything, and it's clear the manufacturer knows it (all emphasis mine):
Magnets are reputed to assist circulation and healing processes and are well known for the beneficial effects attributed to them by people afflicted by rheumatism or arthritis. At the same time the relaxing properties are extolled by horse owners using magnetic rugs or rollers. [...] Barnsby’s research indicates the FTS Magnetic Crownpiece benefits excitable or nervous horses, which seem calmer when ridden in the magnetic bridle. In older horses the gentle massage provided by the crownpiece appears to helps loosen top line muscles, facilitating freedom of movement and encouraging the horse to relax and work "long and low". The magnets used in the Barnsby crownpiece are registered in Germany as "class one medical devices" (European Patent No. 0.134.437, US Patent No. 4,549,532, Japanese Patent No. 1,652,939).

So buyers are expected to pay a premium for something that appears to work. EoR is interested in the company's 'research' and has emailed for further details*. He suspects the 'research' is anecdotal market research (assuming any research was carried out by the company at all, which is not certain) and not 'scientific' research, even though the mention of it in between all the other vaguely scientific adulation (Hey! Let's call it a 'class one medical device' and patent it! What a great idea! People will think it's a proven medical device!) is obviously meant to give the impression of a scientifically accepted and proven fact.

And now, the BBC reports
Magnet therapies which are claimed to cure conditions ranging from back pain to cancer have no proven benefits, according to a team of US researchers. Sales of the so-called therapeutic devices, which are worn in bracelets, insoles, and wrist and knee bands, top $1 billion worldwide, they said. But a major review showed no benefits, a British Medical Journal report said. The team also warned self-treatment with magnets risked leaving underlying medical conditions untreated. Professor Leonard Finegold of Drexel University in Philadelphia and Professor Bruce Flamm of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California said turning to magnetic therapies could also cause "financial harm".

'Financial harm' only if you're not the one selling them.

*EoR emailed on 15th December 2005 and has, to date, not even received an acknowledgement of his email. He is not holding his breath.

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