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Oct-13-2010 21:14printcomments

What's the Weight of the Human Soul?

In 1901 Dr. MacDougall conducted experiments to determine if a human soul was measureable.

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(SALEM, Ore.) - Can one measure the weight of the flame, or of the human soul? It had been used as a philosophical and Theological paradox for centuries, aimed at those who took a scientific approach to find answers to the universe’s mysteries.

Tauntingly demonstrating that while some may have disputed the existence of the soul because it cannot be measured in weight or mass, yet a flame is observable and few would repute the reality of its existence in spite of the inability to weigh it. In the early twentieth century, one Dr. Duncan MacDougall seemed to have set out to tackle this very mystery head on.

On April 10, 1901, Dr. MacDougall began conducting experiments in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Dr. MacDougall had determined to prove that the human soul both had mass, and was measurable. He conducted this experiment on six dying patients who were placed on scales just prior to their deaths.

What he intended to do was to weigh each person before, during and after death to determine if there was any measureable difference detected on the scales. The patients were carefully selected based upon the likelihood of imminent death. Two patients were suffering from tuberculosis, five are reported to have been men and one was a woman.

When it was determined that death was only a few hours away MacDougall would have the entire bed placed on an industrial sized scale which was set to measure by the gram. With four other Doctors present and observing his experiment, Dr. MacDougall measured the weight of his first patient prior to his death.

Once the patient died, a remarkable observation had been recorded; “Suddenly, coincident with death,” wrote MacDougall, “The beam end dropped with an audible stroke hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce.” The experiment continued on the next patient with similar findings. A quote about the experiments in an article from the March 11, 1907 edition of the New York Times read: “The instant life ceased the opposite scale pan fell with a suddenness that was astonishing – as if something had been suddenly lifted from the body.

"Immediately all the usual deductions were made for physical loss of weight, and it was discovered that there was still a full ounce of weight unaccounted for.”

While not all the subjects of the experiment lost the same amount of weight, they did all loose a measurable amount that could not be explained or accounted for. Everything was taken into account, from the air in the lungs to bodily fluids, yet the weight loss still could not be explained.

At the completion of his study he found that his results support his original hypothesis, that the human soul indeed had mass. Further, he concluded that when the soul departed from the body, so did this mass.

Based on taking an average of the total weight lost by his subjects, and taking into account the notes and measurments taken by the other doctors present during his experiment, Dr. MacDougall determined that the soul weighed roughly 21 grams. Other studies were carried out to confirm the results. Experiments on mice and other animals took place.

Dr. MacDougall also conducted the same experiment on 15 dogs. The experiments showed no change in weight following their death. MacDougall concluded this to signify only humans have souls which supports my personal theory about the nature and origin of the soul but you’ll have to read my book if you’re interested in finding out about that...

Again, in 1988 a group of East German Researchers conducted the same experiment on over 200 terminally ill subjects.

Same as before, the subjects were weighed before, during and after death. In this study, the weight loss with each patient was exactly the same, time after time: 1/3000th of an ounce.

Could this difference in weight be due to the use of more precise and sensitive scales in 1988 in comparison to those available to Dr. MacDougall in 1901?

Or, are we as a race diminishing spiritually as we learn to depend and rely more and more on science and ‘facts’?

Bernard Powell is a local author and independent publisher; a devout student of religion, mysticism and the language of occult symbolism. He has had a life-long interest in all branches of the paranormal; and is also the founding member of a Salem-based paranormal research society called OPHIR (Occult & Paranormal House of Investigational Research).

You can visit their site at or you can contact him directly at:

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Robert ramji September 4, 2012 2:53 pm (Pacific time)

Nope dont believe that

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