For weeks now I’ve been griping about the silliness of those Phiten necklaces that almost all the Texas Rangers, and many of the players on every other MLB team, were wearing this fall. The necklaces are nothing new (Phiten has an “MLB Authentic Collection” endorsed by Joba Chamberlain, among others), and indeed plenty of Yankees have worn them for years now, but they’ve rarely been as noticeable as the model so many Rangers sported: thick ropes that looked like some of the hideous if well-intentioned friendship bracelets I used to make at Indian Brook Summer Camp back in the day.
I was all ready to unleash a full-on rant, because the “science” behind Phiten sounds like absolute 100% shameless steaming bullcrap; from their website:
The official team necklace worn on the field by the New York Yankees [or insert your team here]. Featuring Phiten’s exclusive Aqua-Titanium™ technology, this product helps to promote stable energy flow throughout the body. The benefits of this are longer lasting energy, less fatigue, shortened recovery time and more relaxed muscles.
Oh sure… “Aqua-Titanium™” technology. Please, tell me more!
Phiten Technology is based around the different applications of our high-intensity Phild Process. Titanium has been found by our scientists to be particularly responsive to the Phild Process; meaning, it is consistently effective in emitting, or “passing on” the stabilizing effect of the Phild Process.
Thanks for defining “emitting” for me, that is a tricky one. And what is the Phild Process, again?
Miniscule beads of titanium are created using the Phild Process. These perfectly spherical beads can then be mixed into a compound to be printed or layered directly onto material to target specific areas of the body with concentrated effectiveness…
At first glance, the inner core of Phiten necklaces and bracelets may look like mere rubber. However, it actually contains Micro-Titanium Spheres and Carbonized Titanium held together in a compound by the elastomer rubber.
You get the idea. I’m no scientist… in fact, in college the only science courses I ever took were Ecology 110, Intro to Computer Programming, and, I’m ashamed to admit, “Science Fiction, Science Fact”. So maybe I don’t have any right to say it, but I feel confident saying it anyway: this is not real science. It is not how the human body works. It is fairy dust. Besides, I’ve had titanium rods in my spine since high school, and the stability of my energy flow is nothing to write home about, believe me.
I was gearing up for a good screed when much to my surprise, multiple friends on Twitter – people I actually know, and who are quite smart – mentioned they’d used Phiten products, and said that it had worked for them. Which I found… startling.
Upon further reflection, I can believe that it did, even though I’m certain that this product is utter snake oil. I don’t believe that “Aqua-Titanium” does a damn thing for the body, but I absolutely do believe in the placebo effect. Ever had someone mention lice or bedbugs and start itching? Ever taken a pill and been sure it was working, only to discover it was actually a much lower does than could’ve possibly been effective? Not to say that positive thinking can cure cancer, or anything so dramatic. But there are a million examples, and tons of studies: psychosomatic symptoms, and even pyschosomatic cures for real symptoms, are very real… even if they’re not real.
So yes, I believe that Phiten is essentially a scam. On the other hand, if a $36 necklace makes your neck hurt less, or a $25 bracelet makes your carpal tunnel more manageable — well, that’s not such a bad deal. I may resent the pseudo-science, but hey: probably those old 19th century snake-oil salesmen made a few people’s joints feel better, too. Whatever works. And to quote Bull Durham:
If you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you ARE!
That rings a lot truer to me than the Phild Process does.