phiten.jpgYamaha is a well known Japanese company that makes many things including engines, pianos, and electronics. Their reputation is excellent, and based on my experience with their products, well deserved. At least until now. Swift reader John Culbert informs us that Yamaha is now selling products known by those at the JREF to cause monetary loss, delusional beliefs, and embarassment. Behold: Phiten.

To be clear, these products are not made by Yamaha. They're made by Phiten, a Japanese company founded by Yoshiro Hirata, a man who devoted his life to becoming a chef, until illness forced him out of that business.  He then taught himself physical therapy, opened an institute, and invented Phiten technology. The products themselves are the same old thing: they're bracelets and other jewelry impregnated with some exotic sounding metal, this time titanium. From the Yamaha site :

This enhanced material is created with charged titanium particles that are uniquely processed into various forms, emitting a stabilizing field that is in tune with the body's natural system to increase energy capacity and enhance function. 


I love the use of words here. The material is "enhanced." That's a word that, without context, means nothing. How about "charged titanium particles"? Charged how? With static electricity? Magnetism? My guess is American Express. Then we have "emitting," which makes the product sound either radioactive or pungent. A "stabilizing field" could be part of a septic system. And of course, it's "in tune with the body's natural system." That means.. well, I have no idea what "in tune" or "natural system" means. I'm very concerned that it increases energy capacity. Humans store energy in the form of fat, so I must conclude that this product will help make you fatter. I will always, however, be happy to have my function enhanced. I think

Star Trek fans will recognize this for exactly what it is: technobabble. Throw out some sciency sounding words, and people with a weak science education will be impressed. If we simply modulate the shield harmonics and bring the Heisenberg compensators into alignment, everything will be fine.

Yes, it's the same old thing.. we've seen this with Q-Ray most notably and many other products. The news here isn't that there's a company making products with meaningless claims, it's that a major company like Yamaha, who has always seemed to care about quality, has lowered its standards to allow this stuff in its catalog. And they do this because people buy these things on a very high margin. And people do this because it's in fashion to appear high-tech, athletic, and "enhanced." I long for the days when fashion favors reason.

We must again complain that the US regulating authorities (and those of other nations) are simply not effective in combatting misleading advertising like these. The language makes it seem as though the product does something, but in legalese, they make no claims at all. Therefor, they can't be prosecuted for false advertising.  When the company slips up and makes an actual false claim, there will be a lawsuit, and either a settlement or a fine that represents as tiny fraction of the profits made. Though maybe "Smiling Bob " has set a new precedent. We shall see. 

But of course, Yamaha is not alone. Major League Baseball has a licensing deal with Phiten. Given that they're a Japanese company, that's actually a big deal: MLB has only done this a few times before. And if you look at the PhitenUSA home page, you'll see some of the stars of the Boston Red Sox wearing their Phiten products proudly.

Wait, didn't they lose? Oh, maybe that's the "natural system" that was talked about.