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Sep 20, 2018

This week we explore two beliefs that persist in the absence of proof. In a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, Donald Glover made comments linking him to a community known as “Stevie truthers,” conspiracy theorists who believe that Stevie Wonder is faking his own blindness. When Glover asks Wonder for permission to use one of his songs on his TV show Atlanta, he wonders how Stevie will be able to watch the episode—but Wonder’s work in soundtracks goes back to 1979, when he scored the New Age documentary The Secret Life of Plants, which proposes that plants are in fact conscious beings capable of communication (sometimes with aliens). That film abounds in pseudoscience, but it went on to make a lasting impact on both science and the arts. It set back the serious study of plant behavior by a generation, making the field itself a subject of ridicule in the scientific community, but also inspired musical experiments in which plants’ chemical reactions generate electronic compositions of real beauty.