Aug 09 2012

Iridology Update

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7 Responses to “Iridology Update”

  1. daijiyobuon 09 Aug 2012 at 9:09 am

    I always find iridologist’s claims ‘that the iris changes’ interesting due to certain logical inconsistencies:

    a) the iris changes due to diseases in various parts of the body;

    b) ‘therapies’ are done to alter those disease states and supposedly improve that patient;

    c) though the iris reflects health and disease, iridologists have nothing to show ‘after the fact’ regarding the iris reflecting those supposed health improvements [or worsenings]. In other words, if the iris changes, show that it changes in the manner claimed.

    And they never can.

    My favorite iridology video right now is a UK naturopath who demonstrates the technique

    At her web page [ ], she shows even an alternate emotional map of the iris known as behavioral
    iridology wherein:

    “positions in the right eye are related to the left brain and your fathers side of the family. Positions in the left eye are related to the right side of the brain and your mothers family.”


  2. Bronze Dogon 09 Aug 2012 at 11:00 am

    Other sites caution that iridology cannot diagnosis pregnancy, because that is a natural condition of the body, and also cannot diagnose prior surgery, as anything that happens under anesthesia will block the signals that would otherwise change the iris. In other words – iridology only tells you about the susceptibility for disease – it cannot actually diagnose a disease or any other verifiable condition. This reasoning is called special pleading – the invention of a special rationalization for each fact that might otherwise falsify a claim or belief. Iridology, apparently, can only discern those things that cannot be verified or falsified.

    Sorry if I’m being overly pedantic (or unfamiliar with an alternative use of “special pleading”), but I’d call this ad hoc hypothesizing, where new hypotheses are generated and inconsistently used to explain away failures.

    Either way, I can imagine the practical use: If someone has a mark in the “heart” area before heart surgery to fix the problem, and the iridologist doesn’t see that mark after the surgery, he can claim it went away because the problem was fixed, and its disappearance “proves” that iridology works. If he does see it after surgery, he can claim it didn’t go away because of the anesthesia, or possibly say there’s still a problem with the patient’s heart that needs to be solved with his supplements. The quack is shielded from being wrong in either case.

    On the topic of body homunculus quackery, I’ve been annoyed to see a reflexologist at my local mall. Used to, he just had a kiosk, a couple chairs, and a sign with a foot and body map labeled with Chinese characters. Now he’s got one of the stores with a fancy sign.

  3. DOYLEon 09 Aug 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Just another variation of commercial divination.Practitioners,forcasters and readers consult their personally authored decoder map and create a cryptic association with someting visual.Your stuck between those who promise recuperation and alleviation for a price and your garden variety Christian scientist that will let their children rot.

  4. SARAon 09 Aug 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I think this is definitely going to be one of my favorite psuedosciences. It just belongs in a Fantasy Novel, where one of the protagonists is an old wizard who uses the iris to diagnose people. Maybe it tells their future too…Oh the possibilities are endless.

    The evil wizard, of course, uses it for evil. I imagine he does terrible things to people’s eyes to change their behavior or even their physical being. Maybe that’s how he makes orks.

    You know if old Peczely had used his imagination on writing a book, we could all be enjoying and celebrating his life’s work. Wrong path taken.

  5. DevoutCatalyston 09 Aug 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I’ve seen it instill fear in people. Ersnt is right, iridology can cause harm.

  6. jimbodunnon 12 Aug 2012 at 7:28 pm

    My partner recently visited an iridologist recommended by a family friend. I had only just begun cutting my teeth as a skeptic (thanks to a somewhat better recommendation by another family friend to listen to the SGU) and so in the interests of maintaining a happy relationship I allowed this to continue for a few months. As stated in the Steven’s article, the iridologist or “quack” engaged my partner in a vague and, retrospectively, obviously contrived cold reading. The result of which was a regimen of absurd naturopathic remedies which had no effect whatsoever (unless you count the one which gave my partner abdominal pains!). On top of the lack of efficacy (and the $150 NZD consultation fee) was the exorbitant cost of these remedies, around $200 NZD a fortnight! After a while my partner came to her senses (with some gentle skeptical nagging from myself) and since then we have pursued a more science based approach to the issue in question. What’s the harm? My family’s about $1000 NZD out of pocket and who knows what damage the “remedies” could have done long term…
    You’re a good man Dr. Steven Novella, long live the SGU!

  7. eyeguyon 02 Aug 2013 at 1:30 am

    The difficulty with proving iridology as a science is that there are no studies being accomplished in North America, yet, there are several studies from other countries that show great reliability of iridology as valid diagnostic tool.

    For example, three recent studies showing good success in detecting diabetes:

    Journal Article: Learning to predict diabetes from iris image analysis:

    Journal Article: Early Detection on the Condition of Pancreas Organ as the Cause of Diabetes Mellitus by Real Time Iris Image Processing:

    Journal Article: Abnormal condition detection of pancreatic Beta-cells as the cause of Diabetes Mellitus based on iris image:

    And some interesting iridology studies that were accomplished in Russia:

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