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 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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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Lara

    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:

    1. Anna

      thank you for useful information and source!

  2. Elijah

    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.

    1. Andrew David Amber

      “Circle of the Earth” does not mean “spherical”. Circles are flat. Spheres are spherical. The phrase “circle of the Earth” in Isaiah sounds flat to me. It doesn’t say they knew the earth was a sphere thousands of years ago. That may be your interpretation but it does not say that at all.

  3. Jake Stew

    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

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


      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

    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.

  6. Ene

    They also accounted for the breaths in the lungs and ruled that out too. But interesting

  7. woyam

    Why is it so hard to believe that all livings things have a spark of life which we call a soul? We are cosmic matter. A vibration, a frequency in space. This we know . Accept the Universe wastes nothing and understand energy can never be destroyed.

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