The Secret Life of Plants
The Secret Life of Plants cover
|Author||Peter Tompkins, Christopher Bird|
|Publisher||Harper & Row|
The Secret Life of Plants (1973) is a book by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The book documents controversial experiments that reveal unusual phenomena regarding plants such as plant sentience, discovered through experimentation. It goes on to discuss philosophies and progressive farming methods based on these findings.
Christopher Bird (May 11, 1928 – May 2, 1996) was a best-selling author. Christopher Bird was also author of the book The Divining Hand: The 500-Year-Old Mystery of Dowsing. Peter Tompkins (April 19, 1919 in Athens, Georgia - January 23, 2007), father of author Ptolemy Tompkins, worked as a journalist, as well as an US military intelligence officer in Italy.[non-primary source needed]
The book includes summaries of the life and work of 20th century scientists Jagdish Chandra Bose and Corentin Louis Kervran as well as 19th century scientist George Washington Carver. The book also discusses alternative philosophy and practice on soil and soil health, as well as on alternative farming methods. Pseudoscientific topics such as magnetotropism, bio-electrics, aura, psychophysics, orgone energy, radionics, kirlian photography, and dowsing are discussed. One of the book's controversial claims is that plants may be sentient despite their lack of a nervous system and a brain.
The book includes experiments on plant stimuli using a polygraph, a method which was pioneered by Cleve Backster. The book is generally regarded as pseudoscientific by skeptics and scientists. Parts of the book attempt to disparage science, particularly plant biology, for example by claiming science is not concerned with "what makes plants live", in order to promote its own viewpoint that plants have emotions. The authors further say the authorities are unable to accept that emotional plants "might originate in a supramaterial world of cosmic beings which, as fairies, elves, gnomes, sylphs, and a host of other creatures, were a matter of direct vision and experience to clairvoyants among the Celts and other sensitives." 
The book uses very little "good science" that is, having a control subject as well as an unbiased approach towards the topic. Since the book has come out, many scientists have performed tests to prove or disprove the things claimed in the book. Nearly all have come up negative.
The book was the basis for the 1979 documentary of the same name, directed by Walon Green and featuring a soundtrack by Stevie Wonder, later released as Journey through the Secret Life of Plants. The film made use of time-lapse photography (where plants are seen growing in a few seconds, creepers reach out to other plants and tug on them, mushrooms and flowers open). The film was originally distributed by Paramount Pictures.
- "Christopher Bird, 68, a Best-Selling Author - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1996-05-06. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird (1973) "The Secret life of Plants", Harper and Row.
- Abelson, P. H. (21 June 1974). "Pseudoscience". Science 184 (4143): 1233–1233. doi:10.1126/science.184.4143.1233.
- Terzian, Yervant (editor) (1998). Carl Sagan's universe  (Repr. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57286-X.
- The Secret Life of Plants video on YouTube
- The Secret Life of Plants at the Internet Movie Database