Ancestral Health Society: Please tell me it was a joke about Ben Greenfield with his magical decoder bracelet, complete with snake oil drops

There it was, at 1:00 pm on Friday last, at the Ancestral Health Symposium, in Atlanta.

Ketogenic Diets for Athletic Performance Panel

by Ben Greenfield, M.S., C.S.C.S., C-I.S.S.N., Jamie Scott, PGDipNutMed, PGDipSportExMed, jimmy moore, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, B.S.

OK, fine. Ketogenesis in the context of athletic performance is something we’re hearing a lot about, lately. That’s cool. On the surface, huge diff between, say, weight lifters and endurance athletes, and everything in-between. Let the debate rage; because, the whole point about it is to get some folks willing to experiment. But in the end, the cool thing about athletic competition is that: it is what it is. They will use the diet that works best for the application. They do not care about micronutrients or macronutrients, per se. They care about performance and competition. Those, like me—who couldn’t give a fuck amongst a nest of whores—still benefit by the knowledge gained where microseconds and milligrams count.

That’s one thing; but here’s the next, “courtesy” of Ben Greenfield.

SUPERHUMAN ENCODER – The World’s First Piezeoelectric Performance Wristband

Holy Fuck! Batman!

But hold on. There’s More! And it’s so hilarious…

Perhaps you’ve had this happen to you before…

…you’re at a health expo, a fair or a convention, and somebody suddenly pops out from a booth with a “magical bracelet”.

My name is Ben Greenfield, and as a personal trainer, nutritionist, and human performance coach, I’ve been to a good number of fitness events, and I’ve certainly had this happen to me.

And the story is always the same: I put on the bracelet, do the special muscle or balance testing and suddenly I notice…


That’s right, nothing.

From magnets to titanium to holograms, I never noticed any difference at all in performance, strength, balance, health or anything else.

And yet at some point in your life, you have probably also been hounded by wristband salespersons eagerly attempting to conduct muscle tests on you to verify that their magical wristband is going to turn you into some kind of a superhero

Oh really? You actually put it on with an open mind and gave it a test in athletic performance?

Then you’re dismissed as a fucking moron. Forever.

Y’all can read the whole laf if you want. Feel free to drop funny shit in comments. There’s a million—and it’s essentially every marketing shtick-trick in the book—designed for morons.

Look. This isn’t about differences in how much meat, fat, carbs—how dairy, natural starch, and maybe even legumes might fit into the whole ancestral/paleo equation. It isn’t even about a guy who drops c-bombs, but already had a few fans who’d known him for a long time in the community and was given a pass.

This is simply about a popup con man, in it for as much money as he can get quick. That simple. Read that crap again if you don’t believe deeply in Ben Greenfield’s essential depravity and his utter worthlessness a human being.

I’ll take a little of that back: I’m a sucker for genuine redemption.

…You know, I wondered where the hell he’d come from when everyone went running off to Spokane months ago.

…This may very well be the single thing that broke the camel’s back for me, so’s I don’t even celebrate anything going on in Ancestral / paleo, anymore.

I’ll wish you well, but please keep your stink away from me.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Ulfric Douglas on August 20, 2013 at 12:20

    There’s a bloke on a bike in RED GRUNDIES

    I don’t EVER want to ride down the road in my smalls, so maybe I should stop reading?

  2. Ben Greenfield on August 20, 2013 at 12:26

    I love you too, Richard.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 20, 2013 at 12:47

      Ben, I would love to believe in you.

      Help me out, please.

    • J Compton on April 11, 2014 at 09:39

      Where did this ultimately end up? Has Ben apologized for (or even addressed) his blatant woowoo-whoring/sell-out? I know this sounds cliche, but I used to listen to follow him and listen to all of his podcasts…but when he endorsed this bracelet and coordinating magic water drops, I stopped. Entirely.

      Was just curious if there were any more chapters in this saga.

  3. Rob on August 20, 2013 at 12:43

    In marketing the louder the ad the lower the IQ of the intended target, this baby is SCREAMING !

  4. rob on August 20, 2013 at 13:09

    The Superhuman Encoder cured my goiter.

  5. Joshua on August 20, 2013 at 13:21

    I could see some of the material Greenfield presents as being legit science, but his marketing sounds super snake oil salesman huckstery. Like the Billy Mays of holistic health. Dave Asprey’s writings also leave a bad taste in my mouth – mycotoxins are terrible and some are known cancer-causers, but he takes it too far and looks like he’s just making a buck on a lot of his stuff. It’s a classic con-man formula – scare your customers and then tell them you have the magic cure to what you just scared them about.

    Then again, Billy Mays did have some neat products…

  6. tatertot on August 20, 2013 at 14:04

    I wonder if the decoder ring somehow reduces electrical EMF and resonates at the Schumann Frequency of the Earth? If you coupled it with a ground rod and slept on a grounded sheet while listening to a Schumann generator, and drank on water that had been properly ‘structured’, you could live to be 150 easily!

    These are all things people are selling at the moment–to idiots.

  7. Paul C on August 20, 2013 at 14:37

    LOL water drops that you put in a glass of water, only $97. That’s so crazy it just might work.

  8. Brian Beaven on August 20, 2013 at 15:01

    I met Ben at his Superhuman Live Event earlier this year. I had been following his blog and podcast for several months before the event. The Superhuman Live Event was nothing short of amazing. The attendees were treated like special guest. The speakers Ben lined up were incredible. The food served at the event was fantastic. The after parties were fun and exciting. I found Ben to be just like his podcast and website; professional, friendly, and fun. Is the encoder snake oil, I don’t know, probably not any more than the pills Chris Kresser and Mark Sisson sell. I bought mine at his conference, not because I really thought it would work miracles, but because Ben worked so hard on the conference. I got to hang out with Ben at PaleoFX this year and we had a great time. I have found Ben to be a very hard working professional, not a snake oil salesman.

  9. tatertot on August 20, 2013 at 15:40

    A Ben Greenfield day (from his website). Makes me feel quite sane just knowing I don’t think I need to do all this nonsense!

    “Finally, as promised, I’m going to give you a typical “brain-hacking” day in my life so that you know what I personally do when it comes to using these 21 ways that I’ve just provided you with.

    6:30am: Wake up. 5 minutes of Heart Rate Variability training while lying in bed.

    6:45am: 1 cup of coffee (occasionally substitute delta-E or green tea)

    7am: 10-15 minutes of light aerobic exercise (yoga and calisthenics) in the morning sunshine.

    8am: 1 glass of TianChi with 8-10g fish oil. Three months of the year, also include creatine (during off-season weight training period).

    9am: High fat breakfast, including MCT oil.

    10am: Work, while chewing gum and keeping Earthpulse on if more focus needed.

    12pm: High fat lunch, usually includes sardines, eggs, herring or mackerel.

    4pm: Workout, include learning at least one new exercise or movement.

    7pm: High fat dinner.

    8pm: Guitar or tennis practice.

    9pm: Reading book or Kindle with low blue light glasses.

    10pm: Bedtime in darkness. Sleep on Earthpulse.”

  10. Ash Simmonds on August 20, 2013 at 15:44

    One of Australia’s greatest racing drivers – Peter Brock – went full foo way back when, came up with some Energy Polariser with special magnets and crystals which you put on your car and it increased the power and efficiency a gazillion fold.

    It was pretty hilarious for any critical thinker, but hey the biggest fans were like the Aussie version of NASCAR nuts…

    Also – he was silly enough to go vegan at the same time…

  11. Richard Nikoley on August 20, 2013 at 16:14


    That Ben works hard is not in dispute. Nor is it in dispute that he does good things and has good ideas about stuff.

    But a mud pie is a mud pie, and it matters not how hard you worked at it.

  12. Bill on August 20, 2013 at 16:16

    It’s of primary importance to gel your hair and pout a sullen look. Always a marketing winner to the mindless masses. i.e. look like a total cunt. Ben doesn’t love you or anybody else Richard, just himself. As Pat Condell says. Peace. x

  13. A.B. Dada on August 20, 2013 at 16:20

    Has anyone tested the bracelet during bouts of self pleasuring?

    I find myself without volunteer human tissue on Wednesdays and I am hoping these piezoelectric vibrations might be the replacement I’m looking for.

    Now, I’m built of rather girthy and lengthy design, so a two handed approach is the norm. Should I buy two bracelets, or is it possible the harmonics will cancel each other out?

    Please post a reply if there’s any evidence, anecdotal or peer reviewed, to suggest purchasing a wanker bracelet to temporarily replace and displace said volunteer human tissue.

  14. gabriella kadar on August 20, 2013 at 16:34

    For real? LOL! There’s a lot of really gullible people out there if this guy makes his living selling this crap. It’s a variant on the New Age crystal stuff from the 1980s.

  15. Bill on August 20, 2013 at 16:49

    Where’s the “like” button Richard?

  16. Paul C on August 20, 2013 at 16:59

    My favorite part is the testimonial from Ramon who says he added 5 lbs to his workout sets. I’m thinking band +2 lbs and magic water drops +3 lbs, because I’ve got a gut feeling the water is the real key to this.

  17. Brock in HK on August 20, 2013 at 17:37

    I like Ben’s podcast, and he does deliver some interesting content for free. However, this product reminds me of one of the more instructive lines on human nature from “Finding Nemo”: “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta eat.”

    Also: Xzibit: Yo Dawg, I herd you like water so we put water in yo water so you can drink while yo drink!

  18. marie on August 20, 2013 at 19:00

    gabriella, aww, c’mon now! It’s not like crystals at all. There’s real Scienz behind it, with real science terms and…. and energy fields! Why, just look at that scientific graphic. There’s not a new-age transcendentalist anywhere in sight.

  19. marie on August 20, 2013 at 19:16

    Surrealism’s papa,
    you didn’t read the scienz! Two, one on each wrist, in uni-directional motion will have an additive effect, in linearly opposing motion they’ll cancel. Obviously.
    But chéri, I’m concerned, do they shut down Division Street on Wednesday nights? 😉

  20. a.b. dada on August 20, 2013 at 19:21

    Marie, I’m far too young for Division street on a Wednesday.

    It’s a 50/35 crowd, I’m 11 years shy.

    I’ll try two bracelets, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll just put a single one as a…ring.

    If you’re interested in any R&D help, we can provide citations together.

  21. marie on August 20, 2013 at 19:46

    oh dada,
    this is the place for n=1 and I like your innovative spirit, so helping your R&D is an interesting proposition. My strictly supporting role could be to provide Rigorous experimental design, observation and documentation…..just as soon as I stop laughing, you have me in tears here! Bisous bisous.

  22. a.b. dada on August 20, 2013 at 19:48

    Biblically, n=2 is considered n=1.

    Mark 10:8

    For scienz, of course.

  23. marie on August 20, 2013 at 19:58

    Damn you’re fast! You don’t need Division street darling, just take a leisurely stroll down the block on Wednesday nights! 😉
    Meanwhile, sadly, since n=2 would negate your need for those bracelets, the only option for help will have to be a supporting role. Sigh, scienz is a strict mistress….

  24. Ben Morgan on August 20, 2013 at 21:29

    Most of us couldn’t fit in the same room with him at AHS with a head that big. One of the most arrogant dudes I’ve ever met.

  25. el-bo on August 21, 2013 at 03:46

    you know it’s bullshit because it is not explained with one of these :

    all the latest breakthroughs in teh scienz are explained with a faux hand-drawn animation

  26. Sean on August 21, 2013 at 09:03

    I bought mine at his conference, not because I really thought it would work miracles, but because Ben worked so hard on the conference. I got to hang out with Ben at PaleoFX this year and we had a great time. I have found Ben to be a very hard working professional, not a snake oil salesman.

    In my experience hardworking and bullshit artist are much more often synonymous than not. When you want to distort reality, you usually have to work harder, talk faster, to get people to believe (in) you. Radiating a shit-ton of self-confidence helps a lot to sway the rubes.

    Most of us couldn’t fit in the same room with him at AHS with a head that big. One of the most arrogant dudes I’ve ever met.

    Brian, you come across more as a victim of Stockholm Syndrome more than a defender of snake oil salesmen.

  27. Groktimus Primal on August 21, 2013 at 09:08

    I can’t even feel bad for anyone who is successfully ripped off like that. I can’t believe anyone in this day and age would fall for it. If I were that gullible I don’t think I would have survived long enough to reach adulthood.

  28. Skyler Tanner on August 21, 2013 at 09:16

    Screw the bracelets, I just want to learn Dada’s smooth-talking internet pickup seekrits and pass them on to my son.

  29. A.B. Dada on August 21, 2013 at 09:21

    Hah, Skyler — I have no secrets. A man’s role is that of a trustworthy leader. Be that man and you’ll find that there’s a better term for smooth-talker: confident and charismatic leader.

    I’m starting to blog about that stuff over at paleogamy, but haven’t gotten in gear yet. Hopefully before September I’ll have a few dozen articles up that I’m working on.

  30. Sean on August 21, 2013 at 12:08

    AB, I’m pretty sure Skyler was being sarcastic.

  31. A.B. Dada on August 21, 2013 at 12:09

    Of course he was, but that doesn’t mean that Google understand sarcasm. But they do understand interaction — and SEO power.

    And I respond to sarcasm in how I always do: get more powerful because of the time someone else spends being sarcastic.

    Also, I appreciate your explanation for the reason I just listed.

  32. Sean on August 21, 2013 at 12:28

    No problem, I’m always happy to point out what a pretentious twat you are. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

  33. Ulfric Douglas on August 21, 2013 at 12:36

    …so nobody else noticed the red Y-fronts?

  34. CatherineAkaCate on August 21, 2013 at 13:53

    I think Greenfield’s podcast is one of the best out there, and last I checked he has an education and actually IS an athlete. Hopefully everyone is ‘big enough’ to decide for themselves if they want to buy something or not. The snake oil argument reminds me of those that attack celebrities for sponsoring gold sites. If you can’t search a specific coin, to see what it is selling for, then maybe you need Richard 😉 to jump up and down.
    I enjoy Dave Asprey very much also. Both of these guys have great content rich podcasts.

  35. Richard Nikoley on August 21, 2013 at 13:58

    “No problem, I’m always happy to point out what a pretentious twat you are. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.”

    What about me?

    Damn, I knew I should have banned ABD a year ago.

  36. CatherineAkaCate on August 21, 2013 at 14:00

    Oh, and I like super fit blokes in red grundies.

  37. Richard Nikoley on August 21, 2013 at 14:05


    Never listened to his podcast, and I doubt he was peddling his bracelet at a vendor booth at AHS.

    I’ve been on Dave’s podcast and I’m a friend. And, I think he’s a geek and I also think he plays up the mycotoxin deal to make money. That said, he’s selling coffee beans. I’ve tried them, and in fact won a third pound at at the 21 Convenion when I answered his question correctly, first.

    Just go read that bullshit again,

    Then come tell me how you never ever draw a line ever. I think my creds are pretty good going back defending people who are making a reasonably honest living, shtick and hype and all.

    This is beyond the pale.

  38. CatherineAkaCate on August 21, 2013 at 14:49

    The free market decides…’defending people who are making an honest liviing’ ha ha ha good one

    I knew you were a neo-Libertarian when you wet all over yourself about those I-phones.

  39. marie on August 21, 2013 at 15:37

    such language! For shame….and you just fresh from visiting the United PC States – did you not get your pc booster-shot while here? Expats, geez!
    You’ve been a bad, bad boy. In the best possible way 😉
    (Yes Richard, you too – I’m shocked you allow this, shocked I say!)

  40. LXV on August 21, 2013 at 15:46

    A wristband with piezoelectric quartz for $97? Isn’t that usually called a “watch”?

  41. marie on August 21, 2013 at 15:52

    Och Caitríona,
    in my learned opinion, Ben suffers from nona-septamory (check both bracelet site and superhuman site).
    No, it’s not in the DSM-5
    (or is it? Wooo, your help here please?!).

    However, I have an education (a scientific one, no less!) and I used to be an athlete, so dang it woman, by your criteria I can make-up any scienz-sounding health terms I want.
    That’ll be $97 for the diagnosis, btw 😉

  42. Richard Nikoley on August 21, 2013 at 16:28

    I don’t even know what a neo libertarian is. I’m an anarchist and I love my iPhone. I wish Samsung well, too. I do realize the both enjoy many priviledges from the state, like patent laws. Don’t think Samsung won’t use them just like Apple is.

    Apple has one saving grace, though, and it’s not required by GovCo. They make fine products on anyone’s reasonable book. And I don’t mind paying more for what is by some measures, a work of art in a world filled with cheap crap.

    Guess what? Since I bought into the iPhone 1, I have traded up to the 3, 3G, and the 4 and then the 5. The 4s was the ony one I skipped and I sold both Bea’s and mine on Criaiglist for just under or more than it cost to upgrade, because they get it with no service contract. I sold every one within 2 hours, cash at my door,

    Try that with any other phone.

  43. Richard Nikoley on August 21, 2013 at 16:34

    “A wristband with piezoelectric quartz for $97? Isn’t that usually called a “watch”?”

    Holy shit.

    Note to self: never take off your watch again before sex.

  44. CatherineAkaCate on August 21, 2013 at 17:49

    I like the unlocked no service contract Samsung Galaxy because you can buy local time card and pop it in, any country as soon as you get off the flight. Anonymous is nice for anarchists, you realize.

  45. Sean on August 22, 2013 at 10:57

    What about me?

    I’d never dare call you a pretentious twat, Richard. I’m one of your “cultists”. At least according to those fiercely independent thinkers who hang out with CarbSane.

    Besides, you’re more of an obnoxious cunt.

  46. Paul C on August 22, 2013 at 10:58

    My 2nd favorite part is the ancestral conference video website and the magic bracelet and foo water page use the same giant $97 button.

  47. Sean on August 22, 2013 at 11:03


    I’m afraid the booster shot failed to take. I think the original vaccine was too weak.

  48. Sean on August 22, 2013 at 11:05

    A wristband with piezoelectric quartz for $97? Isn’t that usually called a “watch”?

    Winning comment.

  49. Paul C on August 22, 2013 at 12:23

    Why is this so much more repugnant than selling a bottle of Coke for $2? I think it is because the seller in this case knows the product has zero value, and has purposely used deceit to convince the buyer into thinking the product has value. Theft by proxy.

  50. Carl on August 22, 2013 at 13:46

    I use mine as a cock ring. The BEST $97 I ever spent.

  51. LeonRover on August 22, 2013 at 14:34

    Yeah, Carl, an’ now you deh rock king.

  52. Richard Nikoley on August 22, 2013 at 14:38

    “Besides, you’re more of an obnoxious cunt.”

    That’ll do. Just worried I might be losing my edge.

  53. Bill Strahan on August 23, 2013 at 15:04

    Fun read. Read a few books on marketing and the buzzwords make you laugh. Every one will tell you that a store will sell more of “Grandma’s original recipe chocolate chip cookies” than they will “chocolate chip cookies.”

    This is of course not made of just silicone, but “surgical grade silicone.” Black? No, black isn’t…well, it just isn’t black enough. This is “jet black!” Sure.

    As the aviation guy in my circle of friends, one day a fellow asked me why there were so many devices that were marketed as using “aviation grade aluminum alloy” or “aircraft grade aluminum” or similar. I told him they were marketed that way to reach the largest possible audience: The idiots.

    Who knows, perhaps it IS the shiz. I certainly don’t know. But the marketing sure looks like what would be created to sell to gullible people.

  54. Richard Nikoley on August 23, 2013 at 15:08


    Make sure you check out the comment about the watch.

    Then, I’m sure you’ll never take it off again, either before sex, or deadlifts…esspecially if it’s an aviator watch.

    …What kinda sunglasses do you wear?

  55. Sean II on August 24, 2013 at 10:34

    Here’s another example of gov’t moving in on an asset – They will offer guidelines!

    Around Stansted airport, they’ve criminalised the use of any parking lots other than what is offered by the authorised company. Thing is, most people think that is correct behaviour. Safe!

    Do you vote for the candidate with the most Airmiles?

    ABD, Carl,
    The word you’re looking for is “hula hoop”.

  56. Steppe on September 22, 2013 at 16:40

    So Ben’s selling his Paleo rabbit’s foot for $97. Heck, even PHD is into selling amber lights (through Amazon) to normalize circadian rhythm. Did you expect Ben not to bottle seawater and call it champagne? These guys are not independently wealth. Unlike you, they have to put the food on the table. So I’m a bit more understanding, even though Ben’s been getting more and more tin-foil-hattish lately. And the noise-to-signal ratio in his podcast has been increasing steadily.

    And I’m not surprised that there may actually be a market for his bottle of seawater. It’s like the market for sports memorabilia and trinkets. If Ben’s rabbit’s foot gives you comfort and exudes Ben’s warm and fuzziness, then these people have gotten their money’s worth. It’s unsavory but still marketing.

  57. Inquisition on January 24, 2014 at 20:24

    You must look further, not on if this works, but… Where is the necklace? Ahh… a new can of worms… Try looking for the necklace the person spoke of and how he got it for free.

  58. Muskrat37 on February 25, 2014 at 15:14

    Have you seen this yet?

    I saw the full page advertisement (can’t be cheap) in the April Issue of “LAVA” magazine that just arrived in the mail today. I thought “maybe this guy has turned over a new leaf”….however, in looking back at all his bullshit snake oil sales pitches – all the links and websites are still up, and I see that he is still on forums defending himself. This guy is the ultimate DB and will never change.

    BTW – If you read his “about” page on the books’ website, you will see that Ben is Clearly and expert and therefore his bracelet must have the magical powers he claims it does

    It always amazes me the type of bullshit people will fall for.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2014 at 20:21

      I literally can’t stand to spend more than 30 seconds on any thing I’ve ever seen the guy do. Just get a load of this bullshit:

      The 2 best ways to build endurance fast without destroying your body
      Underground training tactics for maximizing workout efficiency
      The best biohacks for enhancing mental performance and instantly entering the zone
      How to know with laserlike accuracy whether your body has truly recovered
      26 ways to quickly recover from workouts, injuries and overtraining
      The 25 most important blood and saliva biomarkers and how to test them
      5 essential elements of training that most athletes neglect
      7 stress-fighting weapons to make your mind-body connection bulletproof
      Proven systems to enhance sleep, eliminate insomnia, and conquer jetlag
      40 high-calorie, nutrient-dense meals that won’t destroy your metabolism
      Done-for-you tools to customize your carbs, proteins and fats for your unique body and goals
      9 ways to fix a broken gut, create toxin-free life, and detox your body
      A complete system to safeguard your immune system and stomach
      Potent time-efficiency tips for balancing training, work, travel, and family
      Training and meal plans so that you easily and immediately implement everything you discover
      Whether you’re a triathlete, marathoner, CrossFitter, swimmer, cyclist, ultrarunner, recreational athlete or any other extreme exercise or regular exercise enthusiast, this is the last system for training, endurance, health, and life you will ever need.

      26 ways, 25 ways, 9 ways.

      I’ll tell you what, anyone who ever says anything except “I’ll tell you how to X (not 26 “ways”) is a fucking liar, fraud, scammer.

      I hate that people I respect give him the time of day.

    • La Frite on February 27, 2014 at 01:03

      hahaha, really funny!

      I should give him this tip for free:

      “The best hack to enhance mental clarity in your readers: ‘sudo shutdown -h now’ “

    • Muskrat37 on April 11, 2014 at 10:11

      Nice list – I’m going to copy / paste that into a post on my blog. Surely BG has a Google Alert setup so it probably won’t be long until he’s defending himself on my blog too! I say Bring IT! I hate scammers.

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