Intelligent or Not

In this week’s spotlight, I want to discuss intelligence. What exactly do we mean by intelligence? Do you have to be human to be intelligent? If animals possess intelligence, do plants? Do we think that feeling is part of intelligence? Awareness—is that a measure of intelligence? Is the universe itself, as many philosophers and mathematicians believe, intelligent?


Webster defines intelligence this way, “The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The act of understanding—comprehension.” Now think about that while I turn to some controversial research regarding plant intelligence. Did you know that plants have a brain—at least a neural network? Indeed, quoting Stephen Harrod Buhner:

The similarity of human and plant neural systems and the presence of identical chemical messengers within them illustrate just why the same molecular structures (e.g., morphine, cocaine, alcohol) that affect our neural nets also affect plant consciousness. For their neural networks to function and demonstrate consciousness, plants use virtually the same neurotransmitters we do, including the two most important: glutamate and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). They also utilize, as do we, acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, levodopa, indole-3-acetic acid, 5-hydroxy indole acetic acid, testosterone (and other androgens), estradiol (and other estrogens), nicotine, and a number of other neuroactive compounds. They also make use of their plant-specific neurotransmitter, auxin, which, like serotonin, for example, is synthesized from tryptophan. These plant intelligence transmitters are used, as they are in us, for communication within the plant organism and to enhance brain function.1


The fact is plants perceive their environment and react accordingly. They compete for resources. They communicate with other plants. Indeed, trees have been demonstrated to communicate with one another as well. And the list goes on—but do plants also feel?

One of my old lie detection colleagues, Cleve Backster, claims that he once used a GSR to measure plant physical reactions. In one experiment, a goldfish was boiled in front of the philodendron by a subject and every time this same subject appeared in the room—the plant responded. Backster sent several others into the room with the plant, but the philodendron failed to respond as it did with the perpetrator. Do plants sense danger?

We have entertained guests who are convinced that the earth itself is intelligent—the Gaia Hypothesis. So, I ask you again, what is intelligence and more importantly, let me ask this: How should we treat intelligent life forms?


Think on this, we now know that some patients thought to be comatose with no conscious awareness whatsoever, have awakened and shared details of what went on while they were supposedly unable to do anything other than vegetate. When we think of intelligence, we often interchange it with consciousness. Are they the same? If a person in a vegetative state is still aware—does this force us to rethink our perception regarding conscious and nonconscious entities?

For me, maybe we need to rethink this whole matter of intelligence and consciousness. I’m definitely rethinking my view, as well as my thoughts on something called Ahimsa—respect for all life. What about you?

Those are my thoughts, I always welcome yours.

Thanks for the read,


Eldon Taylor

Eldon Taylor
Provocative Enlightenment Radio
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusion


  1. Buhner, S. H. “Plant Consciousness: The Fascinating Evidence Showing Plants Have Human Level Intelligence, Feelings, Pain and More.” Conscious Life Magazine.