Cleve Backster (born 1924) is a polygraph expert best known for his controversial experiments with biocommunication in plant and animal cells using a polygraph machine in the 1960s which led to his theory of "primary perception." He is currently director of the Backster School of Lie Detection in San Diego, California. Backster began his career as an Interrogation Specialist with the CIA, and went on to become Chairman of the Research and Instrument Committee of the Academy for Scientific Interrogation. His course of study changed dramatically in the 1960s, when he claimed to have discovered that a polygraph instrument attached to a plant leaf registered a change in electrical resistance when the plant was harmed or even threatened with harm. He argued that plants perceived human intentions, and as Backster began to investigate further, he also claimed to have found that other human thoughts and emotions caused reactions in plants that could be recorded by a polygraph instrument. He termed the plants' sensitivity to thoughts "primary perception," and first published his findings from the experiments in the International Journal of Parapsychology. The article was met with wide criticism of his research methods, however Backster gained the interest of other researchers, and he expanded his experimental range to test for primary perceptions in other life forms, such as yogurt, bacteria, and human cells. His work was inspired by the research of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, who claimed to have discovered that playing certain kinds of music in the area where plants grew caused them to grow faster. Since those early days Backster has presented his work at numerous fringe science meetings, including those of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), founded by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, and the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA. He was a guest on June 27, 2007 on the popular evening radio show, "Coast To Coast AM", during which he discussed with host George Noory and with callers to the program his ideas about primary perception and findings of an interconnection between all living cells. He had been a guest several times before on Art Bell's Coast to Coast, as well as on Jeff Rense's radio shows, and has presented papers at many international conferences and meetings as well as those in the U.S.A. While Backster's work has notable support among many outside the scientific and academic community, and his accepatance and encouragement of this support has hindered his reputation with many established scientists, the scientific community is split in deciding how to deal with the implications of Backster's research. The very nature of his hypotheses that living subjects of experimentation are capable and inclined to respond directly, at a cellular level, to those conducting the experiments creates an inherent difficulty in quantifying his results in any way meaningful to academia. This paradox remains the largest hindrance to Backster's ability to record and present his data in a manner necessary for more widespread credibility. His biocommunications work is most famously discussed in The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. Backster's work is discussed in his book, published in 2003, titled Primary Perception. The book was translated into Chinese in 2006 and Japanese in 2007.
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