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Cleve Backster
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Spy
    (February 27, 1924-June 24, 2013)
    Born in Lafayette, New Jersey
    Birth name was Grover Cleveland Backster, Jr.
    Interrogation specialist with the CIA (1948-60)
    Founded the CIA's polygraph unit
    Developed the relevant-control polygraph interrogation technique
    Claimed that when he attached polygraph electrodes to a plant and thought about burning its leaves, the plant registered a stress reaction (1966)
    As a result of similar experiments, claimed plants can feel pain and have ESP
    Before getting into polygraphs, he tried to create a truth serum.
    He initiated a CIA trend of over-reliance on polygraph testing, which critics claim caused the Agency to fail to detect double agents like Aldrich Ames.
    He studied astrology and dabbled in LSD.
    He never ran properly controlled experiments while studying plant ESP, making the results scientifically useless.
    Attempts to replicate his findings in controlled experiments failed.
    Critics noted that polygraph readings could have been triggered by build-ups of static electricity or changes in humidity.
    His plant ESP experiments inspired a lot of goofy New Age blather.
    He said he was happiest using the polygraph to prove someone's innocence.
    His ideas inspired the Stevie Wonder album 'Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.'
    Next time a vegan is acting all superior, you can shut 'em up with the 'Didn't you know plants have feelings?' line.

Credit: C. Fishel


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