Posts Tagged ‘telepathy’

Weird Science: Plants as Interplanetary Communication Devices

January 9, 2020

Science Fiction has been described as the literature of ideas, and one of the most bizarre ideas is that grass is an artificial computing device. This strange notion appears in Clifford Simak’s 1965 novel, All Flesh Is Grass. This is about a small American town that finds itself completely enclosed beneath a forcefield. The town is on a nexus linking our world and its counterpart in a parallel universe. Investigating the force field and the strange disappearance years earlier of a mentally handicapped lad, the hero finds himself transported to this alternative Earth, where he meets the missing boy, now grown up. He also encounters a group of mysterious travellers from yet another universe, who have come to the world simply to listen to music and dance. Returning to our Earth, he finds that the force field has been put around the town by intelligent extradimensional aliens. There is a series of alternative Earths, who have come together to form some kind of interdimensional federation. These wise, enlightened beings wish to help humanity. They are skilled physicians, and show their good intentions by healing the town’s sick free of charge. It’s revealed that grass is some kind of intelligently engineered device, which was used by an alien race for information storage thousands of years ago.

As with many of the stranger ideas in literature, whether Science Fiction or not, you wonder where the idea came from. Some clue is perhaps given in the 1973 Erich Von Daniken book In Search of Ancient Gods: My Pictorial Evidence for the Impossible. Beginning on page 192, the world’s most notorious author on ancient astronauts discusses how two American scientists suggested that plants could be extraterrestrial communication devices. He writes

So far all attempts to capture signals from the cosmos with the aid of electromagnetic waves have failed. Dr George Lawrence of the Ecola Institute in San Bernardino, California, hit on a fantastic new way to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences. Lawrence wondered if plants connected to an electronic control system would be suitable for communication with the universe. It is known that plants possess electrodynamic properties, indeed their capacity to assimilate tests and react in a binary way like a computer is sensational. Lawrence closely observed the semiconductive and general electromotive capacities of plants. He asked himself the following questions as part of his programme:

  1. Can plants be integrated with electronic apparatuses in such a way that they yield usable data?
  2. Can plants be trained to react to specific objects or events?
  3. Is the assumption that plants have the capacity for exception perception provable?
  4. Which of the 350,000 kinds of plants is most suited for the test. (p. 192)

Von Daniken then goes on to describe how plants respond to electric stimulation, and how Dr Clyde Backster, an expert in lie detectors, observed similar responses in 1969 during experiments in which he believed his test plants responded telepathically, at first to himself lighting a match, and then to a bucket of shrimps being plunged into boiling water. This response became known, apparently, as the Backster effect. Von Daniken continues

Dr Lawrence next tried to use plants for electromagnetic contact with the cosmos. A series of experiments, christened Project Cyclops, was organised over a distance of seven miles in the Mojave Desert, near Las Vegas. On 29 October 1971 at the same fraction of a second the measuring sets attached to the plants registered heightened curves which were transferred to the tape by an amplifier. What was going on? Was something underground stimulating the plants? Were there torrents of lava, earthquakes, magnetic influences? New sets were made, the plants were protected in lead boxes and Faradaic cages. The result was the same! Observed over a long period of time, curves and notes showed a certain synchronicity. The plants seemed to be communicating. Plants cannot think: they can only react. Every conceivable kind of magnetic wavelength was tried. At the moment of the different reactions, nothing could be heard. Could the process be connected with the fixed stars, with quasars or radiation? A new series of experiments clearly showed that the cause came from the cosmos. Radioastronomers with their gigantic antenna could pick up nothing, but plants showed violent reactions. Obviously a wavelength that functioned biologically was involved. This brought the experimenters into a territory whose existence has been suspected, but which is not measurable so far – telepathy. A biological contact took place in a way unexplained to date, but during the detour via the cells it became measurable. Dr George Lawrence said on the subject:

Obviously biological interstellar communication is nothing new. We have only 215 astronomic observatories in the world, but about a million of the biological type, although we call them by other names such as churches, temples and mosques. A biological system (mankind) communicates (prays) to a far distant higher being. Biological understanding is also the order of the day in the animal kingdom; we have only to think of dogs and cats which find their way home again by instinct. A fascinating feature of the experiments in the desert is the realisation that these biological contacts with the cosmos are connected with the speed of light.

The suspicion is growing stronger that the plants are called up by someone in the constellation Epsilon Bootes at a hundred times the speed of light. That is also why radioastronomers could not register the transmissions. Why use a big drum when a kettledrum is available? Perhaps we have investigated interstellar contacts with the wrong instruments, the wrong wavelengths and the wrong spectrum until now. (p.194-5).

This is clearly very fringe science, if not actually pseudoscience of the type likely to get Richard Dawkins grinding his teeth. It also merges into a kind of New Age pantheism, in which the cosmos itself may be some kind of God or supreme intelligence. It’s all very different from what I was taught in secondary school that grass was a monocotolydon. That means, it only has one leaf. I also note that the experiments started in 1971, some six years after Simak published his novel. But scientists and novelists were discussing plant intelligence from the 1950s onwards, including the idea that they could feel pain. It’s now been found that plants do communicate biochemically, and there was an article in the papers last week stating that they do feel pain. Perhaps Lawrence’s ideas, or ideas similar to them, were being discussed several years before Lawrence conducted his experiments, and influenced Simak when he wrote his book.

Two New Trailers for ‘Electric Dreams’ Episode ‘The Hood Maker’

September 13, 2017

I’ve just found these trailers from Channel 4 on YouTube for episode 1 of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, ‘The Hood Maker. This is set in a dystopian Britain where telepaths – Teeps – are used to monitor the thoughts of the population.

It looks really good, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it!

As for dictatorial governments monitoring people’s thoughts, Pat Mills, one of the writers for 2000 AD, used it in Nemesis the Warlock and the ABC Warriors. In Nemesis the Warlock, Torquemada and his terminators, a brutal military religious order, who had imposed a genocidally racist dictatorship on Earth in the far future, monitored the poplation’s thoughts mechanically. And there was a story in the ABC Warriors where another future dictatorship, this time on Mars, also used mechanical devices to keep their people in order.

As various mechanisms are being developed to ‘read’ minds, albeit simply to use nerve impulses from the brain to operate various systems, and some IT engineers are talking about developing artificial telepathy, this particular dystopian idea may not be entirely fantasy after all.

Sheldrake Claims Dawkins Got Interview through Misrepresentation

January 7, 2008

There was a bit of a storm a few months ago when news broke about Ben Stein’s film covering the sacking and persecution of scientists and supporters of Intelligent Design, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. A number of the Darwinists featured in the movie claimed that the interviews had been gained through false pretences. One of these, as I recall, was Richard Dawkins. However, from an article by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake in the February edition of the magazine of high weirdness, the Fortean Times, it appears that Dawkins himself, or rather his producers, used similar tactics in getting him to appear on camera. 

Sheldrake is a scientific maverick. A biologist, he became notorious for his theory of morphic resonance, a non-Darwinian theory that explained the emergence of new features, both physiological and behavioural, through probabilistic morphic fields. Nature magazine denounced his book expounding the theory, A New Science of Life, as ‘the best candidate for burning since Galileo’, and in the ensuing controversy he lost his academic tenure. This did not stop his research, however, which continued independently and included telepathy, which he felt morphic resonance could explain. It was because of his research into psi that he was contacted by a production company, IWC, who stated that Dawkins was interested in discussing his research. Sheldrake himself was reluctant, but agreed to an interview with Dawkins after being promised by the production team’s representative that it would be ‘an entirely more balanced affar than The Root of All Evil?‘, which was Dawkins polemic against religion.

Sheldrake was contacted by the production company shortly before the filming of Enemies of Reason, Dawkins polemic against the paranormal, and in the event the programme was as biased as Dawkins’ previous documentary. The interview duly went ahead, and Sheldrake and Dawkins talked about telepathy. Sheldrake states in the article that he had sent copies of some of his papers, giving the evidence from his research for the existence of telepathy, in peer-reviewed journal to Dawkins the previous week. However, when Sheldrake attempted to discuss the evidence with him, Dawkins looked uneasy, stated he didn’t want to discuss it, and said that it wasn’t what the programme was all about. At this point filming stopped. The director, Russell Barnes, confirmed that he wasn’t interested in evidence, and that the film was merely another piece of polemic by Dawkins. When Sheldrake complained that he had ‘made it clear from the outset that I wasn’t interested in taking part in another low-grade debunking exercise’, he got the reply from Dawkins, ‘It’s not a low-grade debunking exercise. It’s a high-grade debunking exercise.’

Sheldrake then stated that there had obviously been some serious misunderstanding, and produced the emails from Barnes’ assistant claiming that the interview would be balanced. Barnes apparently read them ‘with obvious dismay’, and said that the assurances he had been given were wrong. The production crew then packed up and left.

Now let’s be clear here: Sheldrake is not accusing either Dawkins himself nor the director, Russell Barnes, of gaining the interview with him through deceit. He is, however, stating that the production team’s assistant misled him, and that the interview with Dawkins went ahead because of this deception. Now, while Dawkins isn’t being personally accused of deception here, nevertheless it could be seen as hypocritical for him to be claiming to have been misrepresented in Stein’s movie when interviews for his films have also been gained through misrepresentation.

Anyway, if you want to read the whole story, see the article ‘Richard Dawkins Calls’ in the Fortean Times on page 55.