Over my years of interviewing researchers, I have found that most at some point distance themselves from any discussion of esoteric notions. Since the 1973 publication of The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, these topics are frowned on by plant biologists. In that book, the authors describe diverse phenomena between humans and plants and cite researchers who argue that plants can absorb and process human thought. The authors present “evidence” for the telepathic ability of plants, ways that prayer and music affect plants, and some interesting studies that I wanted to pursue. Unfortunately, they mix wildly absurd hypotheses with serious, credible material. While the book became a worldwide sensation, it was a disaster for the natural sciences.
Entire areas of investigation, including plant electrophysiology, quickly became taboo because botanical researchers feared being labelled esoteric. Scientists simply could not take a chance conducting research in the field. For over twenty years, electrophysiology remained a dark spot on the research map and to this day remains controversial. An esoteric label is synonymous with dubious, unscientific, emotionally coloured gibberish – something rigorous scientists reject totally.
In recent years, however, scientists have advanced the field by making a tremendous number of discoveries about plants as described earlier. We now know that plants transmit information via electrical signals similar to but slower than those of our nervous system. This currently acknowledged fact was relegated to the realm of the esoteric thirty years ago, but now, research on the electrophysiology of plants is no longer taboo. Scientists have confirmed or is no longer taboo. Scientists have confirmed or at least are viewing in a new light much of what was historically dismissed as esoteric about plants. The debate on plant intelligence, however, persists.
These are excerpt from the book “Plant Whispers | A journey through new realms of science.” (Chapter 7) by Florianne Koechlin, translation to English by Thomas Rippel.