One persistent idea among the more ridiculous types of woo is the idea that organs in your body map to certain locations on another organ. It’s the guiding idea behind reflexology (feet) and – of course – traditional Chinese medicine’s tongue diagnosis. For iridologists, it’s the iris. There is also rumpology (oh, yes). Their claims are often backed up by appeal to subtle energies or qi – spirit juice, really – that connects the organs to the proposed markers, and the ideas are approximately as plausible as the claim that your organs map onto tea leaves, coffee grinds or celestial objects.
John Kortum, a “medical intuitive” from Indiana and developer of “the Kortum Technique”, says that most every indicator is perceived by aiming your blended vision at the human face. “The body has a symbolic language to indicate health imbalances within the different organ systems,” claims Kortum, and “[w]hen the imbalance reaches a certain point, it activates the symbolic language and becomes visible and accessible through the Kortum Technique,” which is
a religious claim critically relying on mystical gibberish, and, yeah, dumb. The
Kortum Technique apparently has three stages: “During the first component, the technique is used to survey the
indicators. Further discussion allows the patient to provide information on
what they already know about their health compared to the indicator evaluation.
The second component is dedicated to revealing what the body wants to
communicate. The organs can describe past events in a person’s life. The third
component will be the opportunity to consider what has been revealed in the
session and how the patient can use this information to best support their
recovery of health and vitality.” People apparently pay money for this.
Anyways, Kortum was brought to (some) people’s attention when featured on the South Bend local news station WNDU, in something called Maureen’s Medical Moment, run by one Maureen McFadden, a reporter who touts herself as an “Emmy Award winning News Anchor and Reporter at WNDU.” McFadden appears to be as credulous of New Age woo as they come, and bolstered the case for Kortum with anecdotes. In fact, she also claimed that researchers “put the Kortum technique to the test” in a study in 2001, conducted by Leonard Wisneski and Beth Renne, in which they took patients with documented diseases and had Kortum assess them, with a 93% accuracy rate. The study is not listed in PubMed.
Wisneski, though, is Chairman of the NIH Advisory Board on Frontier Sciences at the University of Connecticut, has served on the board of the American Holistic Medical Association (listed here) and been President of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (also listed here). Needless to say, he would be precisely the kind of “researcher” who could convince himself of Kortum’s abilities through tooth-fairy science and conducting a “trial” by violating all protocols and bias-controlling measures.
When the shoddiness of her reporting was pointed out to her, McFadden doubled down on her claims: “This comes from 12 years of research and is considered a huge breakthrough by many MD’s [sic],” … who shall apparently remain unnamed, and “[f]eel free to argue with the researchers and the FDA and the doctors using it.” We admit that we have not checked whether the Kortum technique has been approved by the FDA. Neither Wisneski nor Kortum is a researcher in any meaningful sense of the word. But yeah: McFadden actually fell for Kortum’s New Age nonsense and thinks his “skills” is a “medical breakthrough.” The sad part is that she is a journalist, and journalists with this kind of complete inability to realize they’ve been fooled are rather scary.
Diagnosis: Kortum is a relatively typical New Age crackpot with a product to sell and – it seems – the charisma and personal skills needed to sell it. McFadden, though, is something of a disgrace to journalism, and ultimately the greater danger to society and civilization.