Once again, attention focuses on plant scientists who find themselves fighting for sanity in a world where people confuse high levels of information transmission with conscious awareness:
Lincoln Taiz is peeved. Over the last decade or so, the retired plant biologist has watched the rise of the field of “plant neurobiology” with growing dismay.
That controversial field, which debuted in a 2006 article in Trends in Plant Science, is based on the idea that plants — which do not possess brains — nonetheless handle information in ways that resemble sophisticated animal nervous systems. This thinking implies that plants could feel happiness or sorrow or pain, make intentional decisions and even possess consciousness. But the chances of that are “effectively nil,” Taiz and colleagues write in an opinion piece in the Aug. 1 Trends in Plant Science.
“There’s nothing in the plant remotely comparable to the complexity of the animal brain,” says Taiz, of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “Nothing. And I’m a plant biologist. I love plants” — not because plants think like humans, he says, but for “how they live their plant lives.”Laura Sanders, “Plants don’t have feelings and aren’t conscious, a biologist argues” at ScienceNews
We know something’s changed when scientists need to make these points. Maybe underestimating the significance of human intelligence plays a role. After all, if we are just clever apes, maybe lettuce is just-as-clever apes too. Maybe salad is murder…
Yes, plants have nervous systems that, like mammals, use glutamate to speed transmission and yes, plants be as “smart” as animals and communicate extensively, without a mind or a brain. But that is not the same thing as intelligent awareness. Even machines can do that.
See also: Scientists: Plants are not conscious!
Is salad murder? Some think so.
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