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Mythbusters Talking to Plants Online Experiment

Talking to Plants: Does It Make Them Grow Better?

Do plants grow better if you talk to them? The idea is pervasive in modern society, although it probably has its roots (no pun intended) in the work of Dr. Gustav Fechner, a German experimental psychologist, who in 1848 suggested that plants would thrive if given attention and talked to. Since then, opinion (and experiments) seems to have alternated between confirming and debunking the idea, though that hasn’t stopped keen gardeners (such as Prince Charles) from having a chat with their gardens.

The Mythbusters team have always been happy to investigate this sort of folklore, and a number of years ago when they tested this they returned a verdict of ‘Plausible’ based on their experimental findings. Here’s the episode in question:

Now, for those that are interested in the topic, the Mythbusters currently have an interactive, online experiment running in which two plants are being monitored, one of which is being ‘talked to’ by a synthesized voice which is reading aloud tweets sent to the plant. It’s not exactly scientific, given it seems to be a sample of only two plants, but a neat set-up all the same:

Does talking to plants help them grow? Become a MythBuster and find out. Tweet a message, and your words will be read aloud to the plant. Go ahead, get something off your chest, wish it well, or just pass along today’s musings. The plant doesn’t care; it just wants to hear from you.

As I write this, it seems that plant being talked to has definitely grown more than the plant sitting in silence. Is there an effect, or is it pure chance? If there is an effect, what causes it? Do sound waves encourage growth (see this recent story for more)? Is it any sound, or only certain sounds or frequencies? Or is it a magnetic field from the speakers surrounding the plant? What do you think?

Link: Talk to a Plant

Editor
  1. Old NOVA episode
    Back in the 80s, the generally skeptical TV show NOVA set out to debunk the plants-respond-to-our-thoughts meme. At one point in the show, they had a well-known preacher who’d written a book on the subject pray over one set of plants in a glass case (sealed off to prevent his breath from affecting them)–while cursing another set of plants sealed in another glass case. After several days, the first set of plants had grown noticeably taller than the latter set (which wound up looking sickly and withered). In a rare shift for that show, the host and producers offered no explanation for the difference, and were forced to leave that segment open-ended. I’ve since tried to find a copy of that episode, or recall the name of the preacher, but have been unable to, unfortunately.

  2. Cayce would say that
    Cayce would say that consciousness permeates all matter in varying degrees, giving purpose to its creation, even a rock… And that intent and thoughts are as powerful as words and actions. If he is correct, this conception of reality helps explain the interaction between plants’ growth and accompanying stimuli in its varying forms.

    The holographic universe principle says all reality is a collection of interference patterns of energy creating the illusion of physical reality and that consciousness participates in this shaping of reality. Further that as in a hologram the whole exists in every part, thus within each part of “us” is the whole of everything else and vice versa. This concept also offers an explanation of the plant’s performance, in that conscious and perhaps more importantly unconscious expectations have causal results in the experiential outcomes.

    Whatever the actual explanations, its only logical that wherever life exists so does consciousness in some manner, and inherent to consciousness is the will to survive, the need for social interaction and pleasure, whether from our human perspective, or in forms not comprehensible to us. The result being the plants’ enjoyment of any interaction and resulting improved performance; the more positive intentioned causing the better performance, barring other factors including unconscious intent among the more obvious lack of water, etc…

  3. I think it’s possible that
    I think it’s possible that plants optimize vibrations (phonons). Photosynthesis already shows that room temp entanglement is already happening. This is extremely efficient and harnessing phonons doesn’t seem implausible. I am also perfectly fine with it also being intention or multiple causes.

    1. And orgonite for instance
      And orgonite for instance depends on quartz or some other piezoelectric resonator within for its effects to be fully felt. The pressure of the cured and shrunken polyester resin upon the embedded quartz may very well have some kind of enhanced phonon effect within the lattice of the crystal. Using resins that have a higher shrinkage ratio will boost the felt effects of orgonite. Last spring I came up with the idea of using a regular old office binder slip to pressurize the quartz independent of the resin factors.

      Since many plants have a high silica content in their tissues it does stand to reason that phonons may be a big part of their response mechanisms to the ambient vibrational environment.

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