Soul Food

I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.

Carl Jung 1875-1961 psychiatrist general badman


In 1901 some cat called Dr Duncan MacDougall embarked on a pretty left-field experiment in Dorchester, Massachusetts. His aim was to prove that the human soul had mass. And if it did, then it was therefore measurable.

With their consent, Dr MacDougall conducted this experiment on six dying patients, who were placed on specially made Fairbanks weight scales just prior to their deaths. His intention was to weigh each body before and after they passed away to determine any differences in their mass, as picked up by these super sensitive scales. In the company of four other doctors, MacDougall carefully measured the weight of the first patient moments before their last breath. 

Once the patient had died, is when shit started getting far-out.

'Suddenly, coincident with death, 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 onto the next patient, with the same results. A quote from The New York Times.

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.

Everything was taken into account, from the air in the lungs to bodily fluids, and the loss in weight remained unexplained. Following the experiment and post consultation with the other attending physicians, it was determined that the average weight loss of each person was ¾ of an ounce. 

MacDougall concluded that the weight of a human soul was... 21 grams.


Whether you believe any of this is up to you. 

Many people refuse to believe what can't be conclusively proven. Personally, i think believing in the possibility of this - without necessarily taking it as gospel - but opening our minds enough not to rule it out completely, saves us a little. After all it was manlike Einstein who said if you do not believe in any sort of magic or mystery, you are as good as dead.  This is a man, the sum-total of whose credibility rested on nothing less than absolute conclusive proof

In a conversation about the supernatural i had recently with my friend Kiki's parents, her mother's justification for the existence of ghosts was this. She felt the human spirit was simply too strong and too vital to just disappear completely. It had to remain somewhere after the body had given up.


Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu directed a film in 2003 called 21 Grams. About this idea of souls. All time top five for me. It has an incredible monologue at the end spoken by the character of Sean Penn.

How many lives do we live. 

How many times do we die. 

They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death. 


How much fits into 21 grams. 

How much is lost. 

When do we lose 21 grams. 

How much goes with them. 

How much is gained. 

How much... is gained

21 grams. 

The weight of a stack of five nickels. 

The weight of a hummingbird. 

A chocolate bar. 

How much do 21 grams weigh.

William Blake The Reunion of the Soul and the Body at the Resurrection (1808)

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