Somehow, I found myself looking at iridology diagrams. Iridologists claim that the surface of the iris is connected to every organ in the body, so the detailed pattern of flecks and lines and spots in the colored portion of your eye is a map to your health, as good as an X-ray or MRI. They actually do get quite specific.
From there I stumbled onto sclerology — these sclerologists claim the map is in the whites of your eyes, and that the network of blood vessels, for instance, tells you all you need to know about the state of your body.
Why, just this morning, I got up, looked in the mirror at my rheumy bloodshot eyes, and learned instantly that I was a walking tumorous mass that apparently was simultaneously exploded and crushed in a tragic farm machinery accident yesterday. It was terrible.
But this is just patent bullshit, every bit of it.
For one, we’ve taken eyes apart and looked. There is no connection between eyes and every other organ; the iris is innervated via the ciliary ganglion (the parasympathetic pathway) and the superior cervical ganglion (sympathetic). There are patterns to the capillaries of the eye, but they are more for efficient circulation of the blood than reflecting a mystical connection to your pancreas.
These maps owe more than a little to the model of the cerebral homunculus, which shows the targets of innervation by the sensorimotor cortex. That makes sense. There are necessary connections that the brain makes to control or receive input from the periphery. There are no such necessary associations with the eye. Also, those maps were made with thorough experimental and observational analyses of thousands and thousands of people — functional deficits were mapped to stroke lesions, and focal stimulation of brain regions were found to lead to specific sensory and motor responses. We’ve got data to back up the idea of how brains are connected to body parts.
And then there’s the plagiarism: why are the sclera and iris maps so similar, with bowels below and brain above, and heart central lateral and lungs central medial? It looks like someone invented a pattern for one part of the eye, and then a copy cat con artist stole it and redrew it for another part of the eye. And look at the pretense of precision! Do you believe the pituitary is associated with some specific point at about 11:30, while the ego is found at 11:10?
I confess, my ego compelled me to go look in a mirror for my ego. Couldn’t find it. My ego is just shattered now.
It’s still impressive in a pseudoscientific way. None of these maps are constructed by scientific methods — carefully replication of meticulous empiricism — and are totally lacking in any kind of observational foundation. You can just sit down and make stuff up, and if it’s flashy enough and apes the lingo of real scientists, someone will believe it enough that they’ll pay real money to a quack.