By James F. Coyle, Author of Beyond Belief: The Ultimate Mindpower Instructional Manual
In 1966 a very strange event occurred. Cleve Backster, America's top polygraph (lie detector) expert was working late in his New York office. His secretary had installed a Dragon pot plant to brighten the office.
Nothing happened. In fact after a while the instrument appeared to indicate less moisture in the leaf. The pen-tracing equipment attached to the lie detector was trending downwards with a fair amount of "saw tooth" motion.
...THE POLYGRAPH REACTED VIOLENTLY!
The pen-traced graph moved off its centreline into a pronounced upward curve.
This was the start of an incredible reaction from the scientific community. And the interesting fact is that thousands of people have been able to duplicate this experiment. All you need is a "Wheatstone Bridge" circuit and a sensitive multimeter which any competent electronics enthusiast can easily assemble. With this simple equipment you can carry out your own experiments.
Backster initially wondered if his equipment was faulty but thorough tests over the following weeks eliminated this as a coincidental effect.
At this point Backster realized he was on to something with enormous potential so he converted his offices into a full scale scientific laboratory.
Over the following months all sorts of plant matter was tested. In one instance a plant leaf was totally shredded but when reattached to the electrodes it still exhibited the same response.
Another interesting observation was that when a plant was seriously threatened it tended to "pass out" from "emotional" overload. The plant appears to go into a "deep faint" for a while and then recovers. Backster discovered this while he was demonstrating his effect to a group of visiting scientists. The plants simply would not respond on this occasion and it was discovered that one of the scientists in the group roasted plants in an oven to get their dry weight for experiments.
A sceptical reporter was invited by Backster to assist in an experiment to see if a philodendron could "read his mind". The idea was to find the reporters year of birth by naming each of the 7 years between 1925 and 1931. The reporter was instructed to answer "no" to each question. Each year was read out and the plant responded strongly (via the polygraph) when the reporter answered no to the correct date. The resultant article created so much impact that it eventually appeared in the Readers Digest. Further tests indicated that plants could reliably indicate when a person was telling a lie, however this is fraught with legal dangers as the plant could easily be sabotaged by the subject mentally picturing the plant being burnt.
In another experiment a group of Backster's students drew a folded slip of paper out of a hat. The instructions on one of the slips told its bearer to totally destroy one of two plants placed in the laboratory. This was to be done in secret at some point during the day, without anyone else knowing. The surviving plant was attached to the polygraph and the students were paraded past it. When the culprit approached the plant reacted strongly, positively identifying the "murderer". The conclusion was that the plant could remember and identify the person who destroyed a sister plant.
After years of testing Backster concluded that if a person genuinely liked a plant it would respond to him or her which might explain why some people have "green fingers" and others don't. It appeared that a communication "bond" developed which was totally unaffected by distance and there is now considerable evidence that this communication is not limited to the speed of light (as radio waves are) but is instantaneous.
His further experiments indicated that once a plant is "linked" to a particular person it seems to be able to maintain that link, no matter where that person is or how big a crowd of other people they are in.
Tests were carried out with the plant in a Faraday cage and a lead container. Both block out radio waves. The communication still went thru unchecked. Backster concluded that this primary perception was outside the usual electromagnetic spectrum.
In a well thought out scientific experiment, designed to quell the sceptics, Backster and his staff designed an automated device that dumped live, healthy Brine Shrimp into boiling water. At the instant the shrimp died in this boiling water, the three monitored plants reacted. The Brine were dumped automatically at random intervals so there was no human interference with the process. Light and temperature conditions were strictly controlled and a fourth polygraph (with a fixed value resistor in place of a plant leaf) was used as a control, to indicate possible fluctuations in power supplies or electromagnetic fields.
Backster's 1968 report in the International Journal of Parapsychology drew more than 7000 queries from scientists around the world, wanting more information. Most of the news media ignored Backster's work until the February 1969 edition of National Wildlife featured a story about this strange new effect.
Another event led Backster onto a different path. One evening he was about to feed a raw egg to his dog. He cracked the egg in preparation and as he did this noticed that one of his plant/polygraph mechanisms reacted quite violently. He decided to attach a store-bought raw egg to his equipment and his chart recorder indicated that it was pulsing with the same rhythms as a chicken embryo, with a frequency between 160 and 170 beats per minute. However the egg was unfertilized and when it was broken open there was absolutely no sign of a circulatory system. Backster appeared to have discovered the same force which has been noticed in Kirlian Photography.
After some years of experimenting Backster's work indicated that when connected to polygraph equipment plants register pleasure, fear and relief. They respond to the threatening intentions of other life forms that they are attuned to. This is where the term PRIMARY PERCEPTION evolved in relation to the apparent interconnectedness between organic and other living matter.
Furthermore it has now been firmly established that human cells respond in the same manner to various emotions displayed by their "host' body, even when these cells are miles from their "host". Human brain neurons (made up of cells) share a common consciousness with other human brain neurons via this "primary perception" which would explain why mind-to-mind contact in the form of Subjective Communication works so well. Rupert Sheldrake calls this a morphogenic field.
There appears to be a common life-force here which has yet to be identified and explained. We have discovered it, but we don't know what it is or how to use it....yet! It is like the discovery of electricity and magnetic fields. We were able to manipulate and use them in the 19th century but didn't even come close to understanding them until well into the 20th century. And 18th century people knew about them in the form of static electricity and lodestones. (Natural magnetic rock). So it has taken around 200 years to get magnetism and electricity up and running properly.
The main problem with this primary perception business is that it only appears to work if the intent is genuine. It seems to be linked to survival and doesn't respond to play acting. Genuine sceptics also have a lot of trouble getting a response. In fact this applies to virtually all mind-power forces - if you believe in it .... it works!
The big problem with the investigation of primary perception is that it seems to work only when genuine emotional intent is involved or when there is a question of survival in living organisms. Scientists are having a hard time with it because results are not uniform and sometimes not even capable of being replicated. All other forces known to science can be reliably measured in any laboratory anywhere, which has the right equipment. Not so with the Backster Effect. So mainstream science understandably finds it hard to deal with.
There is one exception to this response-dropping factor .... and that is the death of human cells. The plants seem to respond consistently to the death of healthy human cells. At one point during Backsters experiments he was noticing that the polygraph would give irregular emotional responses which didn't seem to tie in with any of the tests being done. It took some time to discover what is was. There was a men's urinal next door to the lab. Every time it was flushed, the plant reacted. It was finally concluded that the disinfectant in the cistern was destroying cells in the body's excretions. But the strangest thing was that when the person using the urinal was aware of this effect there was no reaction from the plant!
There have been a multitude of tests by different researchers in an attempt to ascertain the effects of love and hate on plant systems and almost without exception they report that feelings of love toward a plant enhance its growth and wellbeing, something that every "green thumb" already knows!
Experiments of this kind with plants started long before Backster made his amazing polygraph discovery but did not make any substantial public impact until America's top lie detector expert announced his findings.
Meanwhile research goes quietly on - it will be most interesting to see just where it ends up!
James F. Coyle is the author of
Learn more in this fascinating video: The Secret Life of Telepathic Plants