Thursday, February 16, 2017

#1792: Ellen Tart Jensen

Iridology is a form of sympathetic magic and one of the sillier brands of pseudoscientific, quasi-religious woo on offer, at least among those enjoying a modicum of popularity. According to iridologists examination of the iris can reveal the health of a patient (false), the premise being that the iris will change to reflect injuries and illnesses and (falsely) that investigating these changes can be used to diagnose the ailment through the time-honored technique of subjective validation. It is also one of the most easily refuted and thoroughly disproved types of altmed, and the fact that it nevertheless doesn’t go away is illuminating.

Though iridology has been around for a while, one of its most central proponents was Bernard Jensen, who in 1979 (together with some other iridologists) notably failed a scientific test in which they examined photographs of the eyes of 143 persons in an attempt to determine which ones had kidney impairments. Neither Jensen nor the other iridologists showed any statistically significant ability to detect which patients had kidney disease and which did not. Now, Jensen died a couple of years ago, but his daughter-in-law Ellen Tart Jensen has apparently decided to pick up the torch. Ellen Jensen consistently lists “Ph.D., D.Sc. C.C.I.I.” behind her name, but the only education we can actually find her specifying is studying “the science of Iridology for several years with the legendary natural healer, Dr. Bernard Jensen, at the Hidden Valley Health Ranch in California” (she also does “nutrition” and “natural healing”, which we suspect means healing by regression to the mean). It may be telling that she is presently “Director of the School of Iridology and Co-Chair of the Ph.D. Program for the University of Natural Medicine,” and has previously served as “instructor and Dean for the School of Iridology at Westbrook University”. That’s closer to spam than an education. (Westbrook makes an honorable entry on this list of “Schools Not Accredited by any Recognized Accrediting Agency”). Apparently, she is “the only person who has written permission from Dr. Bernard Jensen to place his seal on his iridology certificates.”

Diagnosis: Yeah, she’ll serve in Bernard’s stead. Pseudoscientist and crackpot whose efforts will, contrary to her claims, not help improve your health.

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