Does the Quran make plants grow faster?

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Discussion by: AlexEsters

The pepper sprout that 'listened' to Quran recitations is seen on the right, healthy and ripe. The pepper sprout put in normal conditions is on the left. The pepper seeds subjected to melodramatic Turkish Arabesque songs is in the middle. DHA Photo

Dear members and friends of the RDF.

Although I have visited this website daily for the past 3 years I have now decided to have my own identity here and therefore created this username: AlexEsters, which is very similar to my real name that I am not yet ready to make public. Yes, you have guessed correctly I am a “convert” and my “Rabbi” is Richard Dawkins :) For more than 8 years I watched all debates and talks and read many books from R. Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris and more.

‘The Selfish Gene’ is my new bible! I find through Evolutionary Biology a majestic way to understand life around us. But I still have one foot in the closet. You can’t imagine how difficult it is in this kind of situation with family, friends and lots more. Nevertheless I took a decision to care for what is really truth, regardless of the price I have to pay. Just like in the legend of Abraham in the midst of pagan cultures in Mesopotamia.

But I will not bore you with my private story. Instead I’d like to begin with the following article from a science class in Turkey:

“According to common belief – and even some genuine scientific studies – orchestral music helps plants grow faster, while rock riffs have the opposite effect. Now, a Turkish student appears to have found evidence that recitations of the Quran may have the same effect as classical music.

Curious to explore the melodies that make plants bloom faster, Fatma Akkılıç, a young student at the Milas Semiha Altunkan secondary school in the western province of Muğla, carried out a science project in which she replaced classical music with Quran recitations and rock music with melodramatic Turkish Arabesque songs.

Akkılıç played an audio recording of Quran verses for five hours over the course of 20 days to a pepper sprout. A second pepper sprout was subjected only to Turkish Arabesque music, while a third grew in a silent environment.

According to Akkılıç, the results are undisputable. The pepper sprout that “listened” to the Quran grew 20 centimetres in 20 days, while the sprout left in total silence only grew a modest 13 centimetres. As for the pepper sprout subjected to Arabesque songs, it did not grow at all.

Akkılıç said Quran recitations could be used as a new nutrient for plants and vegetables. “Farmers could make plants listen to the Quran instead of using genetically modified organisms,” she added”.

​From: MUĞLA – Doğan News Agency Source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=66367&NewsCatID=341

 

My question to you is the following:

Should real science even bother to check this kind of claims? Perhaps to check vibration frequencies of languages that may be likely to influence vegetal growth. And even then, should plants care which school of thought recites what?

I know the answer I would give: This is pure BS imposed by religious demagogues to poor little victims of ignorance!

But for the sake of open mindedness I would still like to ask you if intuition in these cases is enough or whether we should always run experiments, even for claims that appear to be ridiculous. At least to prove to the world that science is loyal to objective observation. If so, should this become a kind of “moral ritual” to reaffirm our unbiased principles? Please comment!

Thanks for your time!

AlexEsters

49 COMMENTS

  1. It’s simple to debunk. These kind of silly claims are easily testable and refutable. Now, who’d want to waste their time on that sort of drivel, apart for confirmation-bias’ sake, I wonder. Since you seem so eager, and that you appear to be an unbiased kind of fellow, why don’t you give it a try. Being me, I’d suggest Meshuggah – Catch 33 for your control group.

    • What do you mean with Meshuggah – Catch 33? I know the bashevis singer book with that name thought..

      In reply to #1 by obzen:*

      It’s simple to debunk. These kind of silly claims are easily testable and refutable. Now, who’d want to waste their time on that sort of drivel, apart for confirmation-bias’ sake, I wonder. Since you seem so eager, and that you appear to be an unbiased kind of fellow, why don’t you give it a try. Be…

  2. It is a pretty small sample to base a theory on. I’d want to do a larger trial.

    While I am sure that being a book of religious dogma has no power to make plants grow, maybe there is something to certain sounds making plans grow faster. I’d want to test random babbling sung nicely to the quran sung nicely to the quran shouted, to random sounds shouted, etc…

    • In reply to #2 by canadian_right:

      It is a pretty small sample to base a theory on. I’d want to do a larger trial.

      You don’t say? I thought this was a peer reviewed study ;) Joking aside, of course no reasonable person would take this study as actual evidence or even as a reason to investigate further. I mean, I don’t blame the student. She’s just a kid, and in all honesty it was a fun little project. At least she tried to go about it in a scientific way which is always something that delights me. She strikes me as a quite smart kid who’s genuinely interested in science. The problem is of course when people start treating this school project as a legitimate study worth serious attention. I mean, intellectually this story is on par with stories of people who find pictures of Jesus on a piece of toast.

  3. Should real science even bother to check this kind of claims?

    There is an almost unlimited amount of spectacular claims out there. The proponents are all entirely convinced that they are right, and the reason why scientists ignore their claims is because they are afraid of the truth. Should science actively try to investigate these claims? I think, absolutely not. Mainly for two reasons:

    1) Scientists are already struggling to fund their research. In general, we spend ridiculously little on science and research. In this climate of scarce resources, we just can’t afford to have scientists studying bogus claims. The rule of thumb should be that, unless the people who make claims can account for a reasonable and coherent mechanism there is no need to investigate further. That said, scientists are at times forced to investigate certain popular claims. For example acupuncture and homeopathy. The public outcry for a scientific take on certain topics sometimes just grows to strong.

    2) Even if scientists investigate spectacular claims, it rarely makes any difference. The alleged link between vaccines and autism is a good example. It was a bogus claim from the very beginning. Nonetheless, many years and studies later, scientists are still trying to eradicate this irrational claim. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. It does not matter how many studies we conduct that demonstrate homeopathy is no better than placebo. The proponents just won’t give up, because these ideas aren’t based on logic and reason to begin with. At times, scientists manage to contain the damage, but often they only lend credence to claims that deserve none. It’s not a black and white issue. As said, sometimes scientists are forced to investigate spectacular claims for which there is no evidence or even a plausible mechanism available. At times, these studies even have a positive effect. In other words, less people will believe a particular spectacular claim. Unfortunately, the opposite is probably more often true. I think that scientists should refrain from investigating these kinds of claims until they don’t have any other choice.

    That said, it’s of course also important for scientists to keep an open mind. The next big discovery might be just behind the corner and it might be something for which no reasonable mechanism can be accounted for. In fact, with regard to a large number of pharmaceutical products we don’t know exactly how they work. But we have managed to exclude the placebo effect. Meditation might be one example of something that I think is worth investigating even if there is no specific mechanism available exactly how meditating affects the brain. I think the big deal breaker is when a claim can only be accounted for by referring to the supernatural. That should be a big no no for serious scientists. In my opinion, those kinds of claims should never be investigated.

    • Nunbeliever
      homeopathy is a very good example
      Great point!
      But we should for once accept that sweet and salty water dont mix..
      In reply to #3 by Nunbeliever:

      Should real science even bother to check this kind of claims?

      There is an almost unlimited amount of spectacular claims out there. The proponents are all entirely convinced that they are right, and the reason why scientists ignore their claims is because they are afraid of the truth. Should science…

  4. Obviously there are many problems with this experiment. Firstly, as canadian_right says above, the sample size is too small. Secondly, how carefully did she control the variables? Did she put the plants in different rooms to make sure they didn’t hear the music intended for other plants? If that’s the case, what were the rooms like? How much light did they get, how much water, what was the humidity and temperature in the rooms, was the soil she planted the plants in exactly the same type? I also hope the pepper sprouts came from the same plant to make sure they were genetically identical.

  5. This Islamic girl should see the speed at which my grass is currently growing. True it gets blasts of Bach, Tom Petty, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk and others, but it never ever gets any recitations from the Koran ! No doubt godless plants infect my lawn !

    Suits me fine !

    • In reply to #7 by Mr DArcy:

      This Islamic girl should see the speed at which my grass is currently growing. True it gets blasts of Bach, Tom Petty, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk and others, but it never ever gets any recitations from the Koran ! No doubt godless plants infect my lawn !

      Suits me fine

      Man you should behead your grass!

  6. If you ARE going to do a follow up test, I think you should read the Koran to one plant and The God Delusion to another, and…say…Fifty Shades of Gray to a third. Assuming all other conditions are identical. If the plant is ‘listening’, let’s see if it responds better to dogma, skepticism, or sleeze. (I’m betting on the sleeze.)

  7. Just looking at the plants I see an obvious problem. One of the pots is growing two plants setting up competition for resources. The one with no plant may have no seed at all for all we know. And maybe she liked hearing the Quran herself and nurtured that plant better. Nobody had the guts to point this out to the girl, but at least it should have been ignored. So, no I don’t think this is anything that should lead to further exploration in the scientific community. On the other hand, if religious people want to spend ALL of their time on it, fine with me!

  8. ” As for the pepper sprout subjected to Arabesque songs, it did not grow at all. :”

    Pepper plants, the plant critics!

    Too many variables not accounted for here. For instance, was photosynthetic rate constantly measured in all plants all the time as to varying light intensity?

  9. Ok, this one is easy to debunk… (looking at the picture above) the plants subjected to “silence” were sharing a pot (there are two plants in there), whereas the plant subjected to verse is growing alone (not sharing nutrients). Anyone that has ever grown seedlings knows that crowds leads to stunted plants. The girl needs more information about the scientific method.

  10. Has the young student gotten calls from fertilizer multinationals trying to bribe her to keep her discovery secret?

    If not, that’s all the evidence she needs to conclude that her research sucks.

  11. My daughter set up a similar experiment for her end of high school science project, though later abandoned it and switched to something with more dramatic results. As an onlooker I can assure you that there’s a lot of leeway to fudge the outcomes in a high school science project!

    I’ve always thought that “talking to plants” in the Prince Charles tradition, probably involves a great many unrecorded variables. I think a “talked to” plant is probably a “cherished plant” and would benefit from a higher level of care.

  12. Nitya ;

    I’ve always thought that “talking to plants” in the Prince Charles tradition, probably involves a great many unrecorded variables. I think a “talked to” plant is probably a “cherished plant” and would benefit from a higher level of care.

    Plus of course the CO2 that you breath out whilst talking to the plant !

    • In reply to #22 by Mr DArcy:

      Nitya ;

      I’ve always thought that “talking to plants” in the Prince Charles tradition, probably involves a great many unrecorded variables. I think a “talked to” plant is probably a “cherished plant” and would benefit from a higher level of care.

      Plus of course the CO2 that you breath out whilst ta…

      Especially if you are whispering in its ear! ;-)

  13. I cant believe Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason is regularly allowing this kind of crap discussion on this apparently reason encouraging website…..
    I submitted a good article on Americas current situation in Ukraine but apparently Americans would rather discuss this shit….
    Its doing nothing to keep rationality here and most intelligent people may be ready to leave this site….unless they have already….
    Sensationalising newspapers like the Mail and faux news……would love this stuff

    • In reply to #25 by SaganTheCat:

      Does the Quran make plants grow faster?

      yes.

      disagree and you will insult 2 billion muslims

      settled

      But surely, if you add any shredded paper to compost, and rot it down, then when fed to plants that will make them grow better; (with water, warmth and light)? This would apply to shredding the Qur’an, the Bible, or On the Origin of Species, etc.

    • In reply to #26 by crookedshoes:

      If you grind up the book and put it into a compost heap, the worms will turn it into excellent fertilizer and then, AND ONLY THEN, would the Quran make plants grow better.

      And the bible makes a great fire starter. Just a ounce of gasoline (petrol) and let it soak for thirty minutes. Poof! You have a bbq.

  14. Try growing 10 seeds in 10 pots and try to keep the conditions the same: they will all grow at different rates. Different seeds germinate at different times. How do you keep the light the same when the pots must be in different places – even next to each other gives different amounts of light and we know in this experiment some had music and some not, sop they must be in different places.

    When I worked in a plant nursery the procedure was to put 3 seeds in a pot and when part grown, throw away the weakest two. Same light, water, temperature (as close as was possible) yet they grew at different rates.

  15. Even if this is true (probably yes, but I suppose the same result would be with the other book on arabic), this is evidence for nothing. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that this is evidence for god existing, or this strengthen their faith.

  16. People who take care of those plants should not know what sound those plants are exposed to. That is what double blind testing is all about. We know that when doctors know they are giving a placebo, placebo doesn’t work as well as otherwise. The same suspicion of bias applies to gardeners.

  17. Obviously the plants had no clue what was being recited, otherwise they might all have shrivelled up and died.

    Isn’t there some law against subjecting plants to this sort of abuse? No? Well maybe there ought to be. :P

    As far as I can tell however, reciting the Koran at humans tends to turn them into malignant narcissistic psychopaths. Strange.

  18. Of course the Quran can be used as fertilizer, and may be mixed quite often among other feritilizing stuff. But how well it works depends on the kind of paper, and how it is prepared (just torn or carefully shreddered) may be important too,

    marstal08

  19. It would have been a better experiment had there been several plants in each group (say 10 have the Quran read to them, etc). As it is we can’t deduce much from the result[1], it could be put down to chance. Until others repeat the experiment and publish their results we cannot say one way or the other. Or course, if you intend to repeat this experiment do be sure to say so in advance, and publish any negative results too. Without such it’s easy to show, for instance, that singing “my old man’s a dust man” prior to tossing a coin can bias it to come up heads.

    [1] It looks like one pot has two plants in it. If so, that more or less nullifies the whole experiment.

  20. How would (could) she decide if it was the Arabic language in and of itself, or the actual words of the Quran?
    It seems highly dubious that a serious (?) student would miss that.
    Also, if a person was a believer and conducted this test, I would think the confirmation biased problems would be OFF THE CHART!!!!!

  21. Alexesters , well if you look at arabia , where i hail from , clearly you would see the effect of the quran on plantation and vegitation ,
    its recited everyday , for the past 1400 hundered years , yet we remain it remains to be a Dessert :’(

  22. I do give the answer: This is pure BS imposed by religious demagogues to poor little victims of ignorance!
    There is no magic, not even in any stupid and wicked old book.

    A nice and well educated young man from Turkey once wrote, that he uses pages from the quran as toilet paper. Does he believe that some magic will give him a more than average clean backside? I do not think so.

    marstal08

    • In reply to #45 by bendigeidfran:

      Why are there plants? A god would not require plants.

      What would God have tempted Adam and Eve with if there were no trees in the Garden of Eden?

      “But of the vending machine of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not consume from it: for in the day that you eat its Curly Wurlys you shall surely die.”

      …At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed crisp packets together to cover themselves.

  23. The mistake was not only an unrepresentative small sample, but she used recorded sound!

    It has been shown that boosting CO2 levels (say from oil burning heaters) enhances plant growth in glasshouses.

    They are doing it wrong!

    With the plants placed in the east, it needs a large array of heads down facing Mecca, fervently breathing on them to provide the necessary extra CO2 and moist hot air for an extended period! !

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