Plant Blindness

For example, in plant biology, the term “higher plants” is used arbitrarily, without considering its meaning or meaning. If there is a definition of higher plants, then it is synonymous with vascular plants, but the image it evokes is linear and leafy terrestrial plants. The problem is that the above is a condemning term, implying that the group is superior to its non-vascular relatives. [Sources: 6]

Therefore, humans seem to be blind to most living things, not just plants. As for wild plants-those landscapes or foods that are outside of nature and not grown by humans-many of them have not been noticed by humans. [Sources: 4, 7]

One theory suggests that because plants usually grow close together, do not move, and often visually mix, they often go unnoticed in the presence of animals. Some scientists have suggested that this bias against plants may be due to the fact that the plants are immobile, grow close to each other, are often similar in color and visually mix, making it difficult for people to see them outside the uniform green block. [Sources: 0, 10]

Research shows that humans tend to be more interested in animals than plants, and find it harder to spot pictures of plants than pictures of animals. It is well known that humans are better at recognizing animals than plants, and this relative inability of humans to recognize plants is increasingly referred to as “plant blindness.” [Sources: 8, 10]

This phenomenon is known as plant blindness, a form of cognitive impairment that makes people less likely to recognize the presence and importance of plants in their daily lives. Research by Wandersee and Schusslers (2001) has shown that people with plant blindness fail to recognize the importance of plants as part of a larger ecosystem and in our daily life. The historical bias against plants means that children are not fully educated about them in school, and botany degrees in the UK are already out of date. [Sources: 1, 9]

One of the key factors for this underestimation of plant life may be the education and teaching methods of plant biology. Not only are general concepts taught in animals, but in comparison with zoology and human biology, the class time of plant biology is usually very small. For example, in biology textbooks, plants have much smaller space than animals, and students may feel that plants are not important. [Sources: 2, 4, 10]

Environmentalists view plants as a value in their own right, so it might seem odd to propose advocating plant conservation by thinking about how plants are like humans. At Natural Plants, we try to maintain a Catholic attitude towards what constitutes a plant and, above all, what will be of interest to plant biologists. [Sources: 6, 10]

However, much of the discussion in these studies focuses on what the similarities of these organisms to angiosperms can tell about the history of colonization of terrestrial plants, and even more so about their remarkable features and characteristics. Now, in a new review published in the journal Conservation Biology, biologists Mung Balding and Catherine Williams of the University of Melbourne in Australia looked at previous research to understand why this bias against plants exists and whether it can be changed. [Sources: 0, 6]

This bias is attributed to perceptual factors such as the lack of movement of plants and their tendency to visually mix with each other, as well as cultural factors, such as the increased focus on animals in formal biological education. Wandersee and Schussler (2001) also note that students (at least in the US and my personal experience in the UK) are taught less about plants than about animals (read about vertebrates), so this also helps to restore information bias. which pushes plants into the background. The fact that we are less likely to notice and like plants also has important consequences for their conservation, as we are more likely to care about what we notice and see. [Sources: 2, 7, 11]

Consequently, conservation programs can help reduce this bias. Several cultural and cognitive aspects have been suggested as implicit, and suggestions have been made to overcome this bias and the attendant impact it has on the level of support provided in areas such as investment and training in plant research and conservation work. In a new survey study, researchers are examining why humans, including conservationists, tend to bias plants and whether that bias can be challenged. [Sources: 0, 3, 11]

Plant blindness is a cognitive bias, in the broadest sense, it represents a person’s tendency to ignore plant species. Wandersee and Schussler (2001) defined plant blindness as the inability to see or notice plants in the environment. The term “plant blindness” was first coined by two American botanists (Wandersee and Schuessler) more than 20 years ago. They used it to describe “the inability to notice plants in the environment”, which is reflected in the underestimation and inability of plants. Recognize their importance (1). This can have a huge impact on many different sectors, from plant biology research to protection and legislation. [Sources: 1, 2, 12]

The problem is that if most people are oblivious to plants and the vital role they play in sustaining life, society is unlikely to accept that plant conservation is one of the greatest challenges for humankind. Not to mention supporting research and education in plant science. … In fact, it is not difficult to conclude that such repeated exposure to anthropocentric classification of plants as inferior to animals leads to the erroneous conclusion that they do not deserve human attention. Our tendency to favor animals over plants, treating them only as reference material, has long troubled scientists. [Sources: 1, 4, 5]

Whether caused by innate biology or social education and upbringing, plant blindness is present in our modern societies, and in order to lessen its impact, we need to change the way we look at plants and their meaning. Here I argue that contempt for any non-vertebrate organism (like us) is the most common problem, but fighting plant blindness is a good starting point for improving education, awareness and concern for other organisms we live with on the same planet. … Earth. [Sources: 2, 7]

I wanted to discuss this topic today because as a scientific communicator and plant enthusiast, I hope this podcast series will help address the issue of plant blindness and awaken curiosity about plants and other neglected organisms. In addition to this podcast, if you feel like plants are something of a blind spot in your knowledge, be sure to check out Britannicas’ articles, lists and other stories about plants. Understanding and identifying plants shouldn’t be a niche interest – we need to encourage more interaction with plants, and apps like Google Lens can be a fantastic way to do this, as long as they’re not blind to the plants themselves. Research has already reported that existing biases are programmed in artificial intelligence, so it might not be surprising that we could also program plant blindness in general identification applications. [Sources: 4, 8]

Without dismissing these prejudices, Wandersee and Schuessler argue in an article published in the Plant Science Bulletin that the main cause of plant blindness is the nature of the human visual information processing system ( psb47 -1 .pdf). Since plants are static, they blend in with the background and do not eat people, they usually do not attract visual attention. Their research and that of other biology teachers have shown not only that most students prefer to study animals over plants, but that the first experience of growing plants with a knowledgeable and friendly mentor is a good predictor of students’ later interest in plants. [Sources: 5]


— Slimane Zouggari


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