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The Intelligence of Plants (theparisreview.org)
82 points by Hooke 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments



> Richard Fortey, a former professor of paleobiology at Oxford and paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, scorns the idea of “smart plants.” “It’s so anthropomorphized that it’s really not helpful,” he told Smithsonian. “Trees do not have will or intention. They solve problems, but it’s all under hormonal control, and it all evolved through natural selection.” These “magical” notions of plant intelligence are worrisome, he says, because people “immediately leap to faulty conclusions, namely that trees are sentient beings like us.”

“It’s so anthropomorphized that it’s really not helpful. Richard Fortey does not have will or intention. He solves problems, but it’s all under hormonal control, and it all evolved through natural selection. These “magical” notions of Fortey's intelligence are worrisome, because people immediately leap to faulty conclusions, namely that Richard Fortey is a sentient being like us.”


I'm not so sure about that. Animals of all kinds can be "smart" - why does he assume "smart plants" is a comparison to humans?


Proof by metaphors and analogy is intellectual fraud.


It's kind of interesting how we often use the word intelligence to mean 'experiencing the world like a human.' When we find beings who's experience inches closer to us, we respect them more.


This is wild extrapolation from Dr. Gagliano's already controversial results [0]. Her findings are interesting [1]. Our own immune system has memory and responds to its environment [2 and 3]; does that make it intelligent. The bioacoustics work [1] is way out of my expertise, but is non the less interesting and compelling. I have not kept up with it to see how well it has held up. Dr. Gagliano has some strange opinions and her work is often subject to these kinds of extrapolations. [0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29214474 [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22445066 [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/ [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immunological_memory


Fascinating piece. The rider provided there lest we imagine glorious things about plant intelligence is interesting:

"Richard Fortey, a former professor of paleobiology at Oxford and paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, scorns the idea of “smart plants.” “It’s so anthropomorphized that it’s really not helpful,” he told Smithsonian. “Trees do not have will or intention. They solve problems, but it’s all under hormonal control, and it all evolved through natural selection.” These “magical” notions of plant intelligence are worrisome, he says, because people “immediately leap to faulty conclusions, namely that trees are sentient beings like us.” "


interesting observation by Suzanne Simard and others like Paul Stamets is a group of deciduous trees when fully shaded by taller conifer trees is mysteriously happy and healthy which because shaded should not happen. After many months of investigation a different stand of deciduous trees relatively far away who are in full sunlight where the source of nutrients conveyed over to the shaded trees by an underground mycelium network ... in effect the underground fungi where farming the trees ... keeping the forest healthy in effort to have more food in the future


Perhaps Jeremy Narby will have his day :)




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