Monday, February 14, 2011
His first of six human subjects died and immediately lost three-fourths of an ounce, which is 21.3 grams. MacDougall’s experiments and findings were also published in the American Medicine journal as well as the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. This experiment has lead to the belief that the soul does indeed weigh 21 grams and that the body will drop weight upon death. The former statement is folklore and the latter is true, yet not from the departure of the life force.
What about the other five bodies MacDougall experimented with? Two results were discarded due to the scale not being adjusted in time as the patient died quickly. Two showed an immediate loss in weight followed by more weight loss as time went by and one showed an immediate loss in weight with no further change. One showed a loss followed by gain and subsequent loss again. MacDougall’s results were questionable at best and a public debate ensued with other professionals through the New York Times and other articles.
Dr. MacDougall did try other similar experiments with dogs and found no loss in weight at the time of death. This, he felt, gave credence to his experiments with humans as he thought dogs had no soul. He again made headlines in 1911 as he was experimenting with x-ray photography during the death process and MacDougall claimed to have seen the soul leaving the body when he observed “a strong ray of pure light”. He went on to perform other experiments in order to prove the soul existed and left the body at death, but he himself died in 1920.
Schneider, Reto U (2009). The Mad Science Book. New York. Fall River Press
The New York Times (March 11, 1907, Pg. 5). Soul Has Weight, Physician Thinks.