Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
I was first introduced to this idea when I was in seventh grade. I was fascinated by the idea and wanted to do it for my science project. Lacking a lie detector though, and being a completely hopeless student at the time, I opted for the time honored middle school tradition of doing nothing at all.
Waaay back in 1966, Clive Backster was using a lie detector to measure water consumption in a dracena cane plant. He was visualizing burning a leaf as part of an experiment and the plant went wild. It could have only been his thoughts that the plant was responding to. From there, he ran more experiments, including one that tested whether a plant could identify a person who had destroyed another plant. (It could. Here’s the link.)
Later studies by other researchers confirmed that talking to plants, or playing music for them could increase their rate of growth. In one case, a plant was placed in a Faraday Cage, (A simple fine wire mesh cage that is grounded. It grounds out all radio signals from the enclosed area.) The plant responded to compassionate thoughts sent to it by growing abnormally tall and healthy. Methods using inexpensive biosensors demonstrated that plants are aware of their surroundings and of other plants in their vicinity.
At the time of course, this was all dismissed as pseudo-scientific crap. Gradually though, other evidence emerged. Here is a study from 2004 demonstrating that plant roots have brain like functions that emerge from a type of neural structure in their root systems.
In September of 2008 it was discovered that Walnut trees emit an aspirin like substance when they are under stress as a means of self medication. The presence of stress in a plant is in itself a sign of consciousness.
In other words, plant consciousness is now a well established scientific fact. Of course, the idea of plants being able to psychically communicate is still debated. Part of the problem is that while humans will cooperate with psychic testing under all sorts of circumstances, plants, like animals, only seem to respond if they feel like it. A person has to feel empathy towards the plant to get any sort of response. In other words, if you don’t have a green thumb, don’t bother. This is not encouraging news for skeptics who want to test this idea. Once again, they run into the problem that positive results require belief, but they won’t believe until they get positive results. I empathize with this problem, but I can see no way around it.
The larger picture here is that we’re finding consciousness all over the place. Once thought to be solely the domain of humans, it is becoming clear that far from an exclusive ability of man, it is ubiquitous. Consciousness does not require a human like brain to exist, and the fact that we find it in plants should be a clue as to its importance in our universe. It is far more likely that brains and root systems are different adaptations designed to take advantage of existing consciousness rather than consciousness springing from them. From this view, consciousness is not a magic trick of the brain, but a quantum level force present in everything.