Are we a body with a soul?  Are we a soul with a body?  The idea of the soul itself evolves constantly within religious, philosophical, and purely fictional texts. However, the belief that every person is born with a soul is practically universal to every religion.  Yet few have ever sought out to prove this allegedly priceless part of us, actually exists.

In the early 20th century, a doctor named Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts set out to do just that.  Not only did want to prove we all had a soul. MacDougall wanted to prove how much a soul added to our body.

How much did our souls weigh on us?

He sought to measure the actual mass lost by the human body immediately upon death.  That sudden loss would equal the weight of the human soul.

In 1901, MacDougall weighed six patients while they were in the process of dying from tuberculosis. It was relatively easy to determine when death was only a few hours away.   At this point, the entire bed was placed on an industrial sized scale, which was sensitive to the gram. He took his results (a varying amount of perceived mass lost in the six cases) to support his hypothesis that the soul had mass, and when the soul departed the body, so did this mass.

The determination of the soul weighing 21 grams was based on the average loss of mass in the six patients within moments after death.

Being a cautious man, MacDougall allotted for many other explanations.  The loss of breath and bodily fluids that often accompany death were taken into account.

The doctor wished to continue his work, to prove the weight of the soul for dozens of patients.  However, the Catholic hospitals he was working through did not approve of his meddling with a person’s death, let alone the arrogance of a man who claimed to know so much about the human soul. 
He wasn’t permitted to continue.

The next part gets a little tough to take, but I’ll share it nonetheless.

With no more human patients, the doctor turned to dogs for his experiments.  Despite his claim that he only experimented on dogs already near death, it soon became apparent that was not the case.

After the premature deaths of 15 dogs, McDougall could note no change upon their mass.  These deductions lead him to believe, along with the church, that animals are without souls.

With no further methods of study, McDougall abandoned the experiment. 
As to date, no one has attempted to replicate it.

What do you think?  Medical coincidence?
Or the measurement of one of our most precious commodities?

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