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Cleve Backster

Born in the United States, Cleve Backster (1924-2013) began his career working as a specialist in polygraphy for the CIA after the Second World War. He founded the Backster School of Lie Detection in San Diego (California) and was a recognised instructor on the use of the polygraph.

In 1966, Backster started his experiments on plants, to which he applied electrodes, discovering that they respond to the thoughts, feelings and hostile acts of human beings and animals. He termed this phenomenon “primary perception”, theorising that it was a kind of undefined sensory system with a cellular basis. His experiments seemed to indicate that plants have a faculty of perception similar to telepathy.

His findings were rejected by the scientific community but proved popular with the public and attracted Hindus, Buddhists and New Age followers. His theory appears in books such as The Secret Life of Plants (1973), by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, and The Secret Life of Your Cells (1997), by Robert Stone.

Update: 21 May 2021