Liar Liar Plants on Fire

Jun 22, 2011 by

Liar Liar Plants on Fire

If a human tells a lie while hooked up to a polygraph machine, they will probably get busted.

That’s because telling a lie apparently creates a measurable, electrical, Pants-On-Fire reaction in almost all of us.

But now it turns out that a lie detector test can be used on plants!

And this discovery potentially changes everything about the way we think about our universe.

Researcher Cleve Backster, former head of the polygraph division of the CIA, is an expert in the science of the electrical responses and biocommunications of Lying People and Their Very Hot Pants.

Backster knows that in response to even the slightest surges of emotion, a galvanometer (the part of a polygraph that’s attached to a person by wires carrying a very weak current of electricity) will register a needle moving on a meter, or a pen tracing dramatic lines on a moving graph of paper.

And apparently the best way to make the galvanometer jump is to scare somebody by threatening their well-being.

So one day, sort of by accident, Backster got curious and decided to try to scare a plant.

He hooked up one leaf of his favorite office plant to the polygraph electrodes. (A polygraph can measure the changes in a plant’s conductivity and vibrational energy in exactly the same way it can Nail a Liar).

Then he dipped a leaf in hot water to see if anything registered on the graph.

Well, nothing much happened.

So Backster decided to up the ante.

He decided to BURN the leaf.

He THOUGHT about burning the leaf with a match.

And then an astonishing thing happened.

The instant Backster visualized a flame in his mind, the lines on the graph literally went CRAZY!


So Backster left the room to get matches, then returned to discover that another sudden, crazy surge had registered on the chart, apparently caused by his determination to carry out his threat.


(Backster never actually burned the plant, since just thinking about it apparently terrorized the poor thing.)

Since then, Backster’s thousands of meticulously documented experiments show that plants are sentient life forms that respond to external events. He has shown that plants react— to human negativity and to human caring—by responding with “fear” or “happiness” that looks exactly like the polygraph responses to those emotions in humans.

Next, Backster wondered if plants have memory.

He devised an experiment with two plants, both in the same room. One plant would be “murdered” while the second plant “witnessed” the crime. Then Backster would attempt to use the polygraph to try to identify the secret criminal.

Six of Backster’s polygraph students (veteran policemen) were blindfolded, and one of them pulled secret instructions out of a hat—to uproot, stomp on, rip and tear, burn, and basically murder one of the two plants. The crime was committed in secret one night, and no one knew who the criminal was—except the second WITNESS PLANT in the same room..

Backster attached polygraph electrodes to the surviving plant.

One-by-one, the six suspects were paraded in front of the Witness Plant.

The plant had no reaction to five of the students.

But the meter went crazy whenever the murderer approached.

( “No sooner did the murderer come near the plant than the recorder of the instrument went wild. Not just nervous, the plant was afraid, it was horrified!” )


With more experiments, Backster also showed that a special affinity appears to be created between a plant and its keeper, and this bond is unaffected by distance. Once attuned to a particular person, plants appear to maintain a connection with that person, no matter where they go, and no matter how many other people are around.

With the use of synchronized stop watches and a notebook to record what he was doing and feeling at specific times, Backster showed that his plants reacted to his thoughts and attention from the next room, from down the hall, even from several buildings away.

Back from a 15-mile trip, Backster’s plants perked up the moment he decided to return home.

Another researcher, Pierre Paul Sauvin, who has gotten similar results, has proposed using the sensitivity of plants to detect a potential hijacker at airport security before they could board.

“Operation Skyjack,” a system using suited-up, polygraphed plants to pick up the turbulent emotions of a hijacker at a security screening, is already being researched by the US Army, interested in finding ways to use plants to measure the emotional responses of people. They just have to figure out how to do it without having to sensitize the plants to a special person.

This is not a joke.

In addition to reacting to the harming of others like themselves, plants also appear to react to witnessing the death of other living beings and tissues, even at the cellular level (like the death of bacteria, for example).

So perhaps there is some sort of “cellular consciousness” that is common to all life.

To explore this hypothesis Backster found ways to attach polygraph electrodes to all sorts of single cells, such as amoebas, paramecium, yeast, mold, scrapings from the human mouth, blood, and even sperm cells. All these cells were monitored on polygraph charts.

Yogurt reacts in “terror” when it is injected with penicillin to kill unwanted bacteria.

And, according to these studies, a sperm cell can identify its own donor– even in a crowd–and react to its donor’s feelings, while totally ignoring any other males who happen to be in the vicinity.

Backster dropped a dozen eggs, one at a time, into boiling water, while measuring them with the polygraph. He found the first egg reacted in fear to his intention, and the second and third eggs were so “terrorized” by the first egg’s dunking that the rest of the eggs appeared to “faint” in anticipation. Plants and other organisms appear to react self-defensively in a way similar to an opossum—or a human being—by passing out.

But the most exciting conclusion that Backster and others have found is that all sentient life—houseplants, sperms, eggs, and just about everything else—immediately react to the thought and intention of an act LONG BEFORE THE ACT ITSELF OCCURS.

The Backster Effect leads to the idea that we are part of a unique communications grid which binds all life together. Maybe memory and sentience doesn’t stop at the cellular level, but continues down to even the subatomic level common to all of nature.

In other words, all our consciousnesses are connected.

In the science of energy fields, there is spectacular evidence to suggest that consciousness is a general property of matter, and that every single atom in the universe possesses a rudimentary consciousness or spirit.

Consciousness is an inherent quality of the whole universe.

The consciousness of a rock, or a lake, or a tree, or a houseplant is more complex, more interactive, more noticeable, and more widely distributed than that of an individual atom.

This does not mean that rocks think human thoughts. Rocks “know” things, but not the way we do. Requiring sometimes hundreds of thousands of years to move a miniscule distance or change shape, theirs is a consciousness we can’t even imagine.

“Dumb as dirt” should take on a new meaning for you right about now.


Because you’ll never get away with it.

It’s not that easy being green. Clearly.

Get Ignited!


Note: Click the link to see a little demonstration in the trailer, for the film “I AM” (which will be out soon).

Christine Ranck, PhD is the author of Ignite the Genius Within




  1. Your big sister Jackie

    Thank You, even though I did not need your article to convince me that plants love me as well as me loving them, I am truly happy to tell you that you will help other people realize it is true because they need professional evidence. How joyful they will be when they bring in a blossom half dead and treat it with love and respect by appreciating its beauty, only to find next morning it is twice it’s size and more colorful than you had remembered. Everything on earth must be handle and loved gently and appreciated for it’s purpose on earth. It will respond better and give back what it has received. We do appreciate your article and you for being aware of this magnificent discovery, Your life will never be the same again. Jacqueline Strobel Kelly. Yes he is my brother and our dear Mother taught us this.

  2. I. Hanley

    Dear Dr. Ranck,

    You have validated my experiences with plants!! Our small yard has become a jungle after a few years of bringing home small slips and plants. Our neighbors walk on blossoms of the jacaranda trees. Our floors are strewn with pink tea tree petals that have been tracked in. They look very nice on the tile. Even the old borer ridden plum tree continues to shower us with fruit. I complain bitterly about all the work of cleaning up and making jam, etc. but it knows I don’t mean it. I find it impossible to walk past beautiful plants and not try to send them thoughts of appreciation and wonder. The lilac bush and I have not yet reached an understanding but it will happen.

    Thank you for such a fascinating article!

    Ilah Hanley

  3. Thank you all for your wonderful feedback about this article. I heartily recommend the book, the Secret Life of Plants (there’s a link above), which explains all the marvelous things we’ve discovered about them. And also try to see the film “I AM,” which was out about 6 months ago, and is apparently going to be re-released at some time in the near future–so keep an eye out for it. (You can see a small, funny demonstration of the polygraph with yogurt in the trailer for the film. The link is right at the very end of my article, above.) I have a houseful of thriving plants and have always wanted to be kind (or something) around them, without knowing why–it sort of seemed silly. So all this research was a revelation to me. Science is literally on the verge of confirming, once and for all, that the entire universe is conscious–in fact, that it’s NOTHING but consciousness–and that is probably the most colossal and transformative idea of all time. If you observe the world with that awareness, you can see evidence of it everywhere. So, as frustrating and troubling as the world seems right now, there are enormous signs of hope. I love writing about this stuff, and your enthusiasm means so much to me!!!

  4. The thesis that plants can respond to human thoughts and have emotional responses to having their well-being threatened is an appealing one. We would love to believe that it was true; it would indeed suggest that plants are sentient in the same way that animals are, a fact which would have important repercussions for our systems of ethics. As it turns out, however, no scientists have succeeded in replicating Backster’s impressive results; in fact, the thesis was tested on the the television show Mythbusters and Backster’s anomalous readings were unable to be repeated during their tests. As a result, the presenters stated that “if it’s not repeatable, it’s not science.”

    I would love for this thesis to be true, however, there is currently no reliable, replicated scientific evidence to believe that it is. Therefore, it is wise at this stage, to reserve judgment.

  5. Pam

    Way back when, there was a “fad” about talking to your plants. People laughed, but I’ve always know they ARE living things! If I have to prune, I talk softly about “this is just a haircut.”

  6. Brilliant!

  7. Dear Dr. Ranck; What an interesting and informative article, and one that deserves the dedication of the whole issue of MCJ #51. Backster’s experiments coincides with experiences I have had with plants. The first being that if you put your arms around a tree (I hugged a “Mother Fig Tree”) and put your ear to the bark you can actually hear the flow of life in the tree, much the same as a doctor can listen to your heart beat. My mother was a Florist and a plant nursery owner and she claimed through her whole life (95 years) that her plants knew her and reacted when she fed them or watered them twice a day. My wife has a fern that is now more than 25 years old that she saved from freezing (Once left outside in cold weather the plant began to die), she now trims it by taking off only the dead material and she talks to it daily…The thing is huge and sits in a place of honor and sunlight by our back patio door, safe from the elements and happy to be near her. Another time I was visiting a friend in Idaho who had a small lumber mill. He testified to the reaction of trees prior to being cut down saying, “They know when I approach with my chain saw what is coming and they begin to exude sap in copious amounts.”
    I have taken up way too much room commenting on your most interesting article but I did want you to know how much I enjoyed it and how closely it relates to many of my unproved theories of life, consciousness, the “Big Bang” and how it all began and continues…
    Best regards
    John W. Strobel III