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September 09

Gail Brown

Brilliant Green, and intelligence??

  • Mon 7th Jan 2013
  • Gail

Today’s Blog post will probably be just a little bit challenging…

I’m reviewing a book titled Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence – which was originally written in 2013, and I have a second edition, published 2015.

Firstly, this is an interesting book that quotes scientific research to make a case that plants are intelligent living things. Strange and challenging as this might seem – we’ve all seen plants that grow towards light, and maybe some of us have seen how plant roots grow towards water and nutrients in the soil…

Secondly, this is challenging because it depends on how you define intelligence, and what that means for any living thing? Stefano Mancuso, the author and a scientist himself, quotes reputable scientists from history, including Charles Darwin, as well as current scientists and their research about plants…

Mancuso defines intelligence as “problem-solving ability” – which is an interesting way of thinking about how intelligence might be construed – especially compared to how most of us view intelligence and how it is used in education?

Because I want you to think about this definition, and I mean really think carefully about what this means, in terms of yourself, as a teacher, and also your students? One of the main questions to ask yourself is whether a living thing needs to have a brain to be intelligent? Mancuso argues that plants find energy (by turning to the sun), make their own food (through photosynthesis) and reproduce (in many different ways, including using animals to spread their seeds).

Macuso also makes the case that plants make up more of the living things in our world than animals. On this basis, he argues that an alien would look at Earth and believe it was predominantly occupied by plants – rather than animals, or humans?

Think more on these questions, and I’ll continue this post next week!


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