Recently I was discussing medical issues with a friend of mine and she mentioned that she was going to an Iridologist. I had never heard of this before and I asked what it was. She went on to explain that it is the practice of finding colours and patterns in the eye which are used to determine information about the patients health. My skeptical alarm sounded almost immediately as I noticed a similarity between this description and reflexology (the practice of massaging, squeezing, or pushing on parts of the feet to improve general health). My friend explained she had a lack of faith in Doctors and said that iridology works.
Generally when a practise is refered to as “Natural Medicine” or “Alternate Medicine” there seems to come with it a mechanism that cannot be explained scientifically, and in turn invokes magic. In regards to iridology all you need to think about is one thing, how does a pattern on the eye indicate a problem in another part of the body? Well sometimes a discolouration does indicate a certain disease or health issue. Take Jaundice (a yellow discolouration of the skin and whites of the eyes) for example, this can indicate a patient has Hepatitis A. This is observed science and well documented. But why would a pattern in the eye indicate a disease. Well it wouldn’t. Our brain notices patterns all the time, if you looked hard enough into someone’s iris maybe you could see a pattern that looked like your dead great grandmother! Does this mean that that person is possessed by your grandma? No.
After hoping on Google and doing a quick search I found a few sites that quickly debunked iridology and put my mind to rest on the matter. This article written by Dr Richard Gordon of the Australian Skeptics gave a great overview of the practise of iridology.
The reason I am writing this article is that this occurrence in conversation reinforced my trust in the ability to trust, to a certain extent, the skeptical radar and the bologna detection kit. The next time you are discussing something of this nature take the time to look into the subject and evaluate professional opinions on the matter. Face value is usually wrong and a little bit of critical analysis can help you immediately sort through a topic and determine if it is possibly bunk or not. Oh and if an Alternative Medicine worked wouldn’t it just be called Medicine?