Does the soul really weigh 21 grams?

soul leaving body at deathDoes soul exist? Does it have weight? Does the soul really weigh 21 grams? What happens when a person dies and his soul gets separated from his body?

First time the controversial issue was touched in 1907 by American doctor Duncan McDougall from Haverhill, Massachusetts, who made the following “macabre” experiment: he measured the weight of his patients just before they die and immediately after death in order to find differences.

What were the ultimate results of the experiment? Every dead man lost exactly 21 grams shortly after his death! The doctor did not manage to give a scientific explanation for this curious phenomenon and arguably assumed that 21 grams is the weight of the soul.

A large number of people consider this hypothesis excessive despite it has not been refuted by modern science. Perhaps it could be argued that the weight reduction can also happen due to exhalation and evaporation, and today most scientists believe that the results of those experiments mainly reflect the spirit of the age about the existence of the soul rather than a real phenomenon.

But doctor McDougall answered like this: The weight loss could not have to do with the moisture coming from exhalation and evaporation of sweat as he calculated these two factors and they found to occur with a speed half a gram per minute, while in the experiment there was a sudden weight loss within a few seconds which can not be explained by the current data.

Moreover, it could be the total air from the lungs, so the doctor and his assistants themselves went to try to exhale at once as much as possible and then breathe with all the power, but there was no change in weighing scales.

In addition, the physician made experiments on 15 dogs but there was no change in weight during the death of animals.

Can we reach a clear conclusion? Until now there is no convincing explanation and this huge question still remains a mystery…

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Anna LeMind

Anna LeMind

Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.

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By | 2017-01-13T21:56:08+00:00 May 8th, 2012|Categories: Paranormal, Unexplained Mysteries|Tags: , , |7 Comments


  1. Lara January 24, 2013 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Actually, it was not exactly 21 grams in each case. He did 6 tests. 2 had to be thrown out. The first body lost 21.3 grams (3/4 of an ounce). The others were half an ounce (and an ounce and a half when double-checked), one was a half ounce, one 3/8 of an ounce.

    The doctor’s actual study is cited, word for word, at the bottom of this link:

    • Anna LeMind
      Anna January 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      thank you for useful information and source!

  2. Elijah December 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    science is only trying human means to agree with the truth in the past ages…the word of God is the truth, science may take years to agree with the truth but the truth will always be the truth…e.g. Columbus who proved that the earth is spherical did his first voyage in 1492…what a pity on SCIENCE!..the bible written by the holy spirit (2tim3:16) already affirmed in the book of Isaiah 40:22 thousands of years ago that the earth is spherical.

  3. Jake Stew February 14, 2014 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Warning: Almost every statement in this article is wrong.
    Google his paper if you want to read about what was actually done.

  4. John Connop March 14, 2014 at 9:10 am - Reply

    People usually crap themselves when they die…. Was that thought of?

    • AMIE TATRO February 3, 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      John, yes, but whether inside the body or out of it, the body was on a scale… the waste would have weighed the same.

  5. Jaques April 26, 2016 at 7:38 am - Reply

    He did 6 tests, ignored the results for 5 because they didn’t fit his hypothesis.

    Subseuqently it has been shown that this weight loss is due to sweating due to increased body temperature after the lungs stop cooling the blood. Dogs don’t sweat, so that explains why dogs didn’t lose the tiny bit of weight.

    There is also theory that electrical circuits that are full weigh more than those that are empty. A lot of the human body is electrical.

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Does the soul really weigh 21 grams?