Does the soul exist? Does the soul really weigh 21 grams? What happens when a person dies and their soul gets separated from the body?
The first time this controversial issue was approached was in 1907, by an American doctor, Duncan McDougall from Haverhill, Massachusetts.
He conducted the following “macabre” experiment: he measured the weight of his patients just before they died and then immediately after death, he did this again, in order to capture the weight differences. He was already curious about the weight of the soul, obviously, and this experiment revealed some insights.
What were the ultimate results of the experiment?
Every 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 were nothing but the weight of the soul. Now, that sounds a little presumptuous, wouldn’t you think?
A large number of people considered this hypothesis excessive, despite it has yet to be refuted by members of the modern scientific community. Perhaps it could be argued that weight reduction also happened due to exhalation and evaporation.
Today, most scientists believe that the results of these experiments mainly reflect the spirit of the age. At the beginning of the 20th century, spiritualism and occultism were incredibly popular. Maybe it was more about trying to justify the existence of the soul rather than a real scientific phenomenon. After all, we’ve been curious about death and soul for as long as we’ve been able to fathom these things.
But Doctor McDougall answered with this,
“The weight loss couldn’t have been the moisture coming from exhalation and evaporation of sweat.”
McDougall calculated these two factors and found they occur at the speed of half a gram per minute. In the experiment, there was a sudden weight loss within a few seconds, which cannot be explained by the current data. Now, this is a fascinating observation indeed!
Moreover, it could be the total air from the lungs. Maybe that ominous breath lost a few moments after death can account for the loss of 21 grams. After all, any sort of disturbance of an otherwise stable body could cause that lingering breath to escape. Certainly, the commotion of moving the body around to get measurements would prompt the escape of a stubborn breath. Hmm, maybe.
With this being said, Doctor McDougall and his assistants attempted to inhale, taking as deep of collective breaths as possible, and then exhaling with all their power. The scale would then read the weight of air, which is a weak, less viable experiment if you ask me. This couldn’t have been the reason for the weight differences because there was no change in the weighing scales.
In addition, the physician conducted experiments on 15 dogs, in order to understand the truth about the soul’s weight. Unfortunately, there was no change in weight after the death of the animals.
Can we reach a clear conclusion? As of now, there is no convincing explanation and this huge question still remains a mystery. How real is the soul? Till now, there is no experimental evidence suggesting that the soul indeed exists. And no scientist takes McDougall’s research into serious consideration. If one day, science manages to find solid evidence that the soul is real, it would revolutionize our understanding of the very nature of existence. Right now, all we are left with is speculations and theories to ponder about.
Do you think the soul has weight – a collective weight of 21 grams? Feel free to leave your opinions and ideas in the comments, maybe you have a few interesting thoughts on this topic!
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