International speaker on Biocommunication, Cleve Backster returned to the show to share details of his years of research related to electrical responses in plant life, human cells and living foods. In various situations, these substances have shown reactions on such tests as the Galvanic Skin Response when hooked up with electrodes, he said. For example, he noted that plants seemed to sense intent, and would show an electrical reaction to the mere thought that someone was planning to burn one of their leaves. Backster surmised that the plant is somehow reacting to images it is receiving, in a type of "primary perception," that comes before other senses.
He suggested that plants are sentient and have the equivalence of memory and discrimination. He cited a test of growth rates in three groups of plants, in which the tester spoke to each group differently. The results showed the praised group had the highest growth rate, the ignored had average growth and the disliked group had the lowest growth.
In his tests of eggs, he found that one egg reacted to another egg being shaken. Yogurt cultures also showed similar results, he said. Backster named the Gaia hypothesis, that the world is one large living entity with self regulating capability, as being related to the phenomena he has uncovered. He will be one of the featured speakers next week at the Living the Field Conference in London, which is exploring consciousness research.
Experiments conducted by Dorothy Retallack in the late 1960's seemed to show that plants hate rock 'n' roll yet thrive on certain other types of music such as Bach and Ravi Shankar. Specifically, she exposed a variety of plants in a 56 ft. chamber to the "acid rock" of Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, and Jimi Hendrix, and the plants began pointing in the opposite direction of the sound. In contrast, when Bach and Shankar were played, the plants began tilting towards the music.
Additionally it was shown that the rock music plants required more water yet their growth was weaker (some plants even died) than the control group (silence) and the Shankar/Bach groups, in which the plants grew luxuriantly (see photos from Fate Magazine article). "If rock is doing that to plants, man, I wonder what it's doing to me?," a rock fan impressed with Retallack's research asked, it was detailed in The Secret Life of Plants.
By 1970, as the publicity over Retallack's research bloomed in newspapers and magazines and on TV, other experimenters stepped into the foray. There was Dr. George Milstein, for instance, who was able to increase plant growth through specific auditory vibrations, and Pip Records released the LP Growing Plants Successfully in the Home, embedding the continuous low hum he developed into musical selections. More recently, Dr. Dan Carlson has marketed Sonic Bloom, a "proprietary audio, organic nutrient plant growing process," said to specifically assist plant growth with low water availability and poor soil conditions.