Do Plants Feel Pain?

There is a very popular myth out there that plants have the ability to feel pain. I just heard it again this last summer from an overly credulous college student. When I tried asking by what mechanism the  plant would be detect the pain, being that plants lack a central nervous system. I got a blank stare. When I asked what the source of the claim was, so that I could read up on this fascinating claim myself, I got more blank-osity.

But, by far, the most irritating place I’ve heard this plant headed myth from was a physics professor with an unhealthy interest with Deepok Chopra (an unhealthy interest being any amount).

Well, after many years of searching, I have finally found the source of the plants feel pain story: L Ron Fucking Hubbard!

Dr Hubbard’s experiments soon came to the attention of Garden News, to which publication he revealed, gardener to gardener, his conviction that plants felt pain. He demonstrated by connecting an E-meter to a geranium with crocodile clips, tearing off its leaves and showing how the needle of the E-meter oscillated as he did so. The Garden News correspondent was enormously excited and wrote a story under the sensational headline ‘PLANTS DO WORRY AND FEEL PAIN’, describing Hubbard as a ‘revolutionary horticultural scientist’.
Bare Faced Messiah, Russell Miller
Garden News, 18 December 1959

L Ron pretending the take electrical measurements of a tomato

For those unfamiliar, an E-Meter is nothing more than an electrical resistance meter purposely designed with an overly sensitive analog movement. The movement of the dial will make any actual measurements impossible, but will allow a poor experimenter to interpret the movement anyway they wish.


“Carrot Juice is Murder”, you know

Explore posts in the same categories: Superstition in the Modern World

4 Comments on “Do Plants Feel Pain?”

  1. Kassul Says:

    I think that linking some version of this song is mandatory now:

    The Arrogant Worms with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra – “Carrot Juice is Murder”

  2. Victor Says:

    Nice. I’ve added it to the post.

  3. Peter N Says:

    Ha! I still remember from my junior-high days — in the 60’s — reading a totally credulous article about polygraph expert Clive Baxter, and his discovery that the plants in his office would respond electrically to painful stimuli, the voices and emotions of humans, and different types of music. [The reader is urged to put mental “scare quotes” around each word in the preceding sentence.] I was inspired to undertake some silly experiments of my own, which, curiously, produced no discernible results whatsoever.

    One suspects that Baxter was influenced by Hubbard.

  4. Victor Says:

    I was once given a recorded lecture of Deepak Chopra to listen to in which Chopra claimed that a plant (hooked to the proper “scientific” equipment) was once used to positively identify a criminal in a robbery case. They were able to tell from how distressed the plant became once the suspect entered the room! Oh, it’s all so hilariously stupid. You have to wonder how these people say these things with a straight face.

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