Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Easterbrook on Easterbrook

Recently, TR favorite Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote a characteristically witty opinion in FTC v. QT, Inc. (see comments at Decision of the Day). QT et al. marketed and sold the "Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet," available in both "silver" and "gold" (actually, both made of brass) as a miraculous cure for chronic pain. Easterbrook cuts to the chase and calls the claims "techno-babble" and "blather." Here's one representative (and fabulous) excerpt, in case you need more convincing to spend the 5 minutes to read the opinion: Defendants might as well have said: “Beneficent creatures from the 17th Dimension use this bracelet as a beacon to locate people who need pain relief, and whisk them off to their homeworld every night to provide help in ways unknown to our science.”

In the most recent Tuesday Morning Quarterback, the other (Gregg) Easterbrook gave a shout-out to his big bro in this week's Family Moment.

Last week, Official Brother Frank Easterbrook, a federal appeals judge, upheld a large judgment against the maker of Q-Ray bracelets, saying its claim that "Q-rays" exist and confer fantastic health benefits is "poppycock" and "a form of fraud." Q-ray bracelets supposedly deliver astonishing "bio-energy." Frank found they were just metallic trinkets.

Yet here's a true story: In 2002 and 2003, the Official Wife of TMQ experienced persistent pain in her right hand, probably from too much keyboard time at work. She was taking ibuprofen and naprosyn, plus attaching pain patches (local analgesic) to her hand and right wrist, and was still in pain. The family was in Colorado for a while in conjunction with yours truly teaching at my beloved alma mater, Colorado College. I suggested she get a copper bracelet, especially one made by a Native American; she scoffed. We took the kids to see Manitou Springs, an old cowboy town that hosts craft shops. I went from shop to shop asking for not just a Native American-made copper bracelet but one that had been blessed by a medicine man. I found one seller, an Arapaho jeweler, who said his work was blessed by a shaman. (Probably later he said to his wife, "Guess what, today I had a customer from Maryland who believes in the medicine-man stuff.") Nan put the bracelet on. Her pain was gone in two days and has never returned. True story.

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