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Biologists clash over plant consciousness


Posted on Sunday, 7 July, 2019 | Comment icon 20 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 (20)

Tags: Plants, Trees

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by and then on 8 July, 2019, 1:56
My head hurts...
Comment icon #12 Posted by Aspro on 8 July, 2019, 2:02
What scientists are involved in this research? Why 
Comment icon #13 Posted by ChrLzs on 8 July, 2019, 4:35
For anyone genuinely interested in the full story, unfettered by journalistic license.... may I suggest here: https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(19)30126-8 In essence, there's a group of fringe-dwelling pseudoscientists who are writing papers for 'ego' journals making silly claims about 'plant neurobiology'.  Quite correctly, other *real* biologists have pointed out that you can't have neurobiology in an organism without a nervous system, so even the name they have chosen for their little niche of science, is completely inapplicable..!  Plants manifestly do NOT have ... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Skulduggery on 8 July, 2019, 7:19
“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” —Jack Handey
Comment icon #15 Posted by SpaceBumZaphod on 8 July, 2019, 8:48
From Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.
Comment icon #16 Posted by pallidin on 8 July, 2019, 9:27
Now I feel bad about eating my yummy salad mix. Thanks, just thanks... In civil disobedience I will now mow my lawn with my teeth.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Coil on 8 July, 2019, 17:08
The difference is that by killing a plant we do not commit such evil if we kill an animal that has a more complex consciousness and body organization, and killing a person is an even greater crime and is punishable by law so the matter is a higher organization of consciousness and the body of creatures.   We can also plant plants and trees to replenish what is taken from nature.There are seasonal plants, fruits and berries that can be consumed without feeling guilty for a dead plant. Plants have a soul but it is less manifested because its means of expression are less developed than in humans.... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Inversion5 on 9 July, 2019, 9:00
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 on 9 July, 2019, 13:57
Actually they don't.  "What the beep do we know" was made by lying POS.
Comment icon #20 Posted by ChrLzs on 10 July, 2019, 22:18
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 declined?  Th... [More]


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