Numbers Don't Lie

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How much does a human soul weigh ?

Does the human soul exist, and if so, how much does it weigh ? To find out, surgeon Duncan Macdougall devised a grief experiment in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in April 1901. He placed a dying tuberculosis patient on a platform scale rigged with a cot. At the moment of death, Duncan Macdougall hypothesized, the scale should register a drop in weight when ghost shelled off its earthly body. Their first patient in place, Macdougall and his team took up their grim posts, assumed an air of breathless, intent expectancy. The first patient's soul clocked in, or rather, out, at 21 grams.
Sadly, Macdougall never managed to duplicate that data later.

Source: "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife" by Mary Roach



Blogger j said...

very interesting! the film 21 grams also alluded to that and it's a really good flick. i'll check out the book Spook. great blog! keep it up!

11:32 AM

Blogger Paul said...


4:27 PM

Blogger ramblingmuse said...

Definitely interesting! I'm surprised others haven't attempted this type of research again? Or maybe they have?

Love your blog!


11:20 AM

Blogger ramblingmuse said...

Definitely interesting!

I'm surprised no one has duplicated this research. Or maybe they have?

Love your blog!


11:22 AM

Blogger ramblingmuse said...

Oh, sorry...didn't realize you are reading all posts prior to publishing. :-P

I added your blog as link on mine. Hope that's ok.


11:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would have been better had the weighing been done in a closed environment. The 21 grammes could simply have been the exhailed breath of the dying man.

3:06 AM

Blogger half said...

21 grams is a lot of air.... More likely it was the deceased final salute to the Earth.

5:33 AM

Blogger Rusty said...

You're a medical student, so you should be aware of the concept of proper testing procedure. A double-blind approach, for one, would help to eliminate researcher bias. This 'experiment' was based on a pitifully small sample and though the average may have been close to 21, there were numerous examples where there was no loss in weight. Did these people not have a soul?

But aside from the difficulties with the research, the concept of a soul having weight and therefore being subject to gravity, would preclude it from being able to act in a manner that would be consistent with what people normally associate with a soul. How could it move to heaven if it had weight? What power would propel it that far? Wouldn't a weightless soul make more sense?

Apply even a small amount of critical thinking to the subject and nobody would even bother doing the experiment in the first place.

12:11 PM


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