What price happiness? Apparently $59.95 and up (plus S&H)
Imagine that if you could, for as little as about 60 dollars (or up to about 250 dollars), get something that would make you feel better all the time, improve your golf game, help you win international marathons and maybe even some Olympic medals. And that???s not all. For no additional cost, you would get something that you could use to accessorize your clothes, even in a variety of colors and styles ??? you would both feel good and be fashionable too!
It all sounds great, and this is what the Q-Ray company claims on its website www.qray.com. Its main product is the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet?? line, bracelets made of metal (or mostly metal, plated or unplated) in the form of a "C" with two flattened spherical knobs at the ends. Available internationally and heavily promoted on cable television, the bracelets come in different price ranges (i.e., the Natural Series, the Standard Series, etc.) with different finishes. Pendants incorporating a "C"-type coil inside a polymeric protective casing and titanium rings, again in the shape of a "C" and with the inscription "Q-Ray", as well as "ionized" sunglasses (along with other Q-Ray products) are sold at the website www.naturesbracelets.com (which states that it is not affiliated with qray.com).
So why "Q-Ray"?
The term "Q-Ray" is used because of a purported connection with "qi gong" (pronounced as "chee gung", as well as other ways), the famous "chi" that is the vital energy ??? the "bio-energy" ??? that flows through all living things and is essential to keep in balance to maintain good health. Once your "chi" is out of balance (too much "yin" or negative energy and not enough "yang" or positive energy), you feel lousy and listless ??? definitely not at your best. You put the bracelet on ??? with due consideration, apparently, for the clothes that you are wearing ??? and, in just seconds (according to a testimonial), your "chi" is balanced and you feel great, apparently ready to run a marathon. Your "yinned" out state is history and you get "yanged" up, basking in vim and vigor. Q-Ray restores the natural balance of your "bio-energy" and you are ready to take on the world.
But apparently feeling great is just not good enough ??? you???ve got to color match too because it states on the site that "The streamlined styling and Q-Ray benefits make our Standard Series the most important addition to any wardrobe."
Sounds great! How does it work?
The key to all this is a special, secret "ionization" process that the Q-Ray selection of products undergoes, which then allows the wearer to rebalance his or her bio-energy and perform at the highest level, of course becoming happier all along.
The Q-Ray site mentions "our exclusive Ionization??? Process". This is very curious ??? the process of ionization is the addition or removal of electrical charge from matter. Atoms are generally neutral, having the same number of negative and positive charges, electrons and protons respectively. The protons form a small nucleus, and the electrons are in shells around this nucleus. An atom from which an electron is removed is an ion ??? it has an excess of positive charge and is called a positive ion. Conversely, if an electron is added to an atom, it becomes a negative ion because it has an excess of negative charge.
Atoms in which all the electrons are tightly bound to the nucleus are called insulators, and atoms in which the outer electrons are only lightly bound are called metals. These outer electrons can be thought of as not belonging to any particular atom. When an electrical potential is applied, the electrons move readily and a current flows.
If electrons were added to a neutral metal (via static electricity, for example), then the electrical potential of the metal would change. Because people are usually electrically neutral and electrons are disposed to move to any region with a different potential, the electrons would move from the metal to the person who touched it. Since the Q-Ray?? bracelet is made mostly or completely of metal, any excess or deficiency of charge would immediately be neutralized upon contact with human skin. This effect is called neutralizing or discharging. Anyone who has touched a doorknob during the winter after walking over a wool carpet is very well aware of it. Any difference in potential between a bracelet that had an excess of electrons and a human would be quickly eliminated.
Even if a Q-Ray bracelet were not in contact with human skin, there is no way to permanently "ionize" metal that is exposed to air. Since there are naturally occurring free ions floating around everywhere, any metal with an excess of positive or negative charge ??? even isolated from other metal ??? would eventually discharge. Touching the metal would just accelerate the process. It therefore does not appear that the "exclusive Ionization??? Process" that is claimed is an ionization process that works according to any of the usual physical laws.
So how do I use Q-Ray products? What type of "ray" actually is a "Q-Ray"?
Just as for rays of light, focusing apparently is very important for rings and bracelets but it is not clear why. For example, it is stated on the Nature???s Bracelets site that "For maximum effect, ring should be work (sic) on the pinky or ring finger of your left hand". As to the bracelets, they are to be worn on the right wrist with the terminals facing up (palm down) or, if that doesn???t work, on the left wrist with the terminals facing down (and palm down). The pendants ??? which apparently do the same thing ??? can be worn any old way around the neck ??? it doesn???t appear to matter. From all of this, it does not appear that there is any focusing of "rays" going on in any particular direction because the rings, bracelets and pendants are claimed to have the same effects. It is also not clear what the "ionized" sunglasses are focusing, or where.
So maybe it???s like magnets or copper bracelets?
Nope - according to Q-Ray, magnetic bracelets and wraps can???t balance your body???s flow of "chi" ??? only "ionized" products can do that. Stated simply, magnets don???t work and copper just turns your wrist green. The Q-Ray products are different and are not to be confused with these other objects.
What precautions should be taken?
There are a number of things that you should not do, such as place your Q-Ray product on metal surfaces or allow the terminals to touch. What will happen should you do so is not stated. You should also consult with your doctor to see if it is safe to wear your Q-Ray product while you are pregnant. There is some very sensible advice however. For example, you are supposed to "???stay away from any high voltage electric areas while wearing a wet bracelet". Not much to argue about there.
But why not many bracelets all at once?
If one bracelet does all that is claimed, then several should be even better. Although there are discounts available for buying more than a single bracelet, apparently you are supposed to give them to those you want to help out, not keep them yourself. It would seem that if a guy were decked out in a few bracelets, a few rings, a pendant or two and had all this topped off with a pair of "ionized" shades, he might even be able to even finally dispense with that Viagra.
Q-Ray as a fashion statement.
It is extremely curious that the fashion elements of Q-Ray products are mentioned in the same breath as their beneficial effects. Perhaps I???m old fashioned, but if a product could make me feel good all the time and cost less than about 60 dollars (plus S&H), I don???t think I would very much care about how it looked. It could be the ugliest thing in the world ??? it could even clash with my tie! ??? but I would still likely wear it. Religiously. Day and night. Everywhere. Being out of fashion would not prevent me from having continuous feeling of well being. But maybe that???s just me.
Why not send in your old bangles?
Although Q-Ray and Nature???s Bracelets sell various products, neither offers the service of "ionizing" sunglasses, bracelets, etc. that people already own. It seems that there would be a great demand for this. After all, many of us have such items that we are fond of, and would be happy to pay to have them "ionized" so that we would have even better reasons to be fond of them. And since there is no magnetization going on (which wouldn???t work on gold or copper, for example), it appears that any piece of jewelry could be treated with the "ionization" process. This could then allow my old Ray-Bans to not only protect my eyes but to also make me feel great while doing so!
Perhaps the key to unlocking all the mysteries in regards to the Q-Ray product line can be found in the pendants that the Q-Ray company sells. On the Q-Ray site, it states "Pendants offer all the bio-energy and benefits of our Q-Ray Bracelets in an attractive pendant designs. ??? Pendants are infused with spiritual energy (italics added) specially designed to enhance concentration and focus." It appears that the "exclusive Ionization??? Process" is really a "spiritual energy" infusion process and not something that has anything to do with physics. That clarifies everything. I???m going to throw out my crummy copper bracelets, magnet wraps and crystals too, and get some of these Q-Ray products. They are obviously superior. After all, where else can you get "spiritual energy" that you can hang around your neck?
Note: In a case against the marketers of the Q-Ray ionized bracelet, a court ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission in September, 2006. The court stated that it would require the defendants to turn over $22.5 million in net profits and pay back up to $87 million to consumers (www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/09/qray.shtm). In 2002, the Mayo Clinic presented the results of a double-blind test on the bracelets that found them to be as effective as placebos (www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/inside.asp?AID=206).
The author is a Ph.D. Aerospace Engineer who has worked at NASA and says jewelry does nothing for him.
WHERE: La Peña Lounge, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley [Click for Map]
HOW: Presented as a FREE public service by the Bay Area Skeptics.
WHY: Because we’re curious creatures.
The news is full of dire predictions for our future: peak oil, peak food, over-population, climate change, disease pandemics, and more. To top it off, social media connects us to an overwhelming number of opinions on these subjects. How do we know which sources to trust? How can we best inform ourselves? And, how do we balance science and self-interest as we prepare for an uncertain future?
Dr. Kiki Sanford has a PhD in neurophysiology, and she loves bird brains. She left the lab to focus on science communication, hosting and producing many science-based programs for the web and TV, including Brink on the Science Channel, Dr. Kiki's Science Hour on TWiT.tv, Pop Siren on Revision3, and Food Science. She is currently the host and producer of This Week in Science (TWIS), and looking for her next amazing project.
Millbrae Skeptics in the Pub
If ye value critical thinking, and if ye scorn the flim-flam man, join us, your friends. Skeptics in the Pub is a group of like-minded people informally discussing the latest in science or pseudoscience over good eats & ale.
WHEN: 7PM Wednesday 25 March (4th Wednesday each month)
WHERE: Fiddlers Green, 333 El Camino Real, Millbrae. A 10 minute stroll from the Millbrae BART & Caltrain station. [Click for Map]