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“Plants are SO just leafy green people!”

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In “If You Pick Us, Do We Not Bleed?” ( The Smart Set, Stefany Anne Golberg argues, “Understanding the plant experience helps us understand the human one, too,” reflecting on the life of the great plant physiologist Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858-1937):

Born in what is today Bangladesh in 1858, Bose was a quintessential polymath: physicist, biologist, botanist, archaeologist. He was the first person from the Indian subcontinent to receive a U.S. patent, and is considered one of the fathers of radio science, alongside such notables as Tesla, Marconi, and Popov. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1920, becoming the first Indian to be honored by the Royal Society in the field of science. It’s clear that Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was a scientist of some weight. And, like many scientists of weight, he has become popularly known for his more controversial pursuits — in Bose’s case, his experiments in plant physiology.

Perhaps it was his work in radio waves and electricity that inspired Bose’s investigations into what we might call the invisible world. Bose strongly felt that physics could go far beyond what was apparent to the naked eye. Around 1900, Bose began his investigations into the secret world of plants. He found that all plants, and all parts of plants, have a sensitive nervous system not unlike that of animals, and that their responses to external stimuli could be measured and recorded. Some plant reactions can be seen easily in sensitive plants like the Mimosa, which, when irritated, will react with the sudden shedding or shrinking of its leaves. But when Bose attached his magnifying device to plants from which it was more difficult to witness a response, such as vegetables, he was astounded to discover that they, too, became excited when vexed. All around us, Bose realized, the plants are communicating. We just don’t notice it.

Much of the article is way over the top, as befits a claim that plants are people too, and a lot like animals. What’s interesting is the utter confusion between three different concepts: sentience, intelligence, and consciousness.

See also: Plants are people too – biologists

Didn’t a story roll through here last night about how promiscuous hen sparrows can help us understand human behaviour? It all has the effect of making a person wonder whether the writers of these articles have an unusually difficult time understanding human behaviour.


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