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Nature & Environment

Biologists clash over plant consciousness

By T.K. Randall
July 7, 2019 · Comment icon 27 comments

Could plants be self-aware ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Angelynn
For years, scientists have clashed over whether or not plants possess a form of conscious awareness.
There are two main camps when it comes to the debate over plant consciousness - one which asserts that plants possess a primitive form of awareness, and another which focuses on the more traditional mindset that plants are simply incapable of such thought processes.

Most recently, scientists from Germany, the UK and the US have come out guns blazing in a renewed effort to dispute the idea that plants and trees are conscious.

"There is no evidence that plants require, and thus have evolved, energy-expensive mental faculties, such as consciousness, feelings, and intentionality, to survive or to reproduce," wrote botanist Lincoln Taiz from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Previous studies have suggested that plants possess brain-like command centers and animal-like nervous systems that afford them a basic form of awareness.
"Our criticism of the plant neurobiologists is they have failed to consider the importance of brain organisation, complexity and specialisation for the phenomenon of consciousness," said Taiz.

Those on the opposite side of the fence meanwhile remain convinced that the idea has merit.

"For me, the process of generating knowledge through rigorous science is about understanding the evidence base behind a claim," said Monica Gagliano from the University of Sydney.

"Where is their experimental data? Or are we expected to just accept their claim at face value?"

Suffice to say, the debate over plant consciousness is far from over.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (27)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by Inversion5 5 years ago
I see consciousness being vaguely defined. So to say plants have no consciousness on a meaning that is not well established is jumping the gun. But the bottom-line is, so what if they are conscious or not? Also, people attach consciousness to some type of moral certitude. You don't mind killing a plant, right? If you move to kill a plant, it wont give a crap, cause it won't dodge you. And maybe it doesn't need to. So you can leave morals out of it. So you can see what I'm doing. I'm attaching it's response (which some say is part of awareness) to being conscious. Based on that, there could be ... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by Rlyeh 5 years ago
Actually they don't.  "What the beep do we know" was made by lying POS.
Comment icon #20 Posted by ChrLzs 5 years ago
No, it absolutely 100% doesn't.  Did you know that Dr Emoto, the guy who made these claims, was not a Doctor at all?  That he said "sometimes fantasy is the best way to get a clear picture of reality"?  That the only 'papers' he got 'published' were never peer reviewed, and were posted at the well known laughing stock of a journal, the JSE?  (unlike real science journals, the JSE just publishes anything, if you pay them)  That he was one of very few people *invited* to show his work to James Randi with a view to receiving a $1,000,000 prize if he could prove it?  An offer that he declin... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by smokeycat 5 years ago
The magician? 
Comment icon #22 Posted by Robotic Jew 5 years ago
Is his name REALLY Dr. Emoto?? Sounds like a low rent Superman villain.
Comment icon #23 Posted by lightly 5 years ago
        .    .  That made my shamrock plant laugh !
Comment icon #24 Posted by ChrLzs 5 years ago
.. and investigator and skeptic who could generally spot the cheating of fakers like Uri Geller in an instant.  For many years he offered a prize of $1,000,000 to anyone who could pass a reasonable set of tests to prove their 'powers' or whatever paranormal claim they made.  Those tests were designed by the claimant and then vetted by a more than reasonable panel (not including Randi) and agreed to, all in public view). Many tried, but ALL failed to pass their own tests....
Comment icon #25 Posted by smokeycat 5 years ago
So not a scientist then.
Comment icon #26 Posted by ChrLzs 5 years ago
??  Anyone who uses scientific methods may be deemed a scientist.  Rather than play games, would you like to look at any particular example of persons who tried (and failed) at the challenge?  Or at Dr Emoto's ludicrously laughable work?  Then, by examining what happened (or didn't happen) and the process, we can see who is scientific and who isn't. So let's cut to the chase - do you believe water has 'memories'?  That plants have a nervous system and feel pain?  That Uri Geller, for example, has real powers?
Comment icon #27 Posted by smokeycat 5 years ago
  To answer your questions:- 1.) No 2.) Not a nervous system as such but I think they can sense their surroundings, even the latest studies has suggested that they may be able to hear.  3.) Definitely not.   

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