The Study of Spirit: 21.3 Grams

Anyone who knows basic biology can tell you of the work of Duncan MacDougall, an American scientist who, in 1901, conducted extensive experiments on patients dying of varying ailments in old-age homes with the marked objective of discovering evidence of the human soul leaving the body upon death. There was even a film released based upon his findings in 2003, aptly named 21 Grams. The abridged conclusion of his research was this:

Upon death, the human body loses 21.3 grams of mass, unexplainable as the loss of biological material.

Article from the New York Times, 1907

These results were found across the board- every one of the patients exhibited the same results, and the while the lack of inconsistencies doesn’t indicate a comprehensive conclusion it does beg the question: Was MacDougall right? Naturally this research was popularised and widely debated, yet there was no public follow-up, and for the mostpart MacDougall’s findings were represented as the rantings of a madman, and were widely discredited.

Humans weren’t the only organisms upon which these tests were conducted, yet naturally human test subjects were far harder to obtain. Fortunately for the scientific community animals don’t have to volunteer to have their bodies measured or their lives sacrificed in the pursuit of truth.

Dogs, sheep and mice were all used to confirm MacDougall’s theories, and the results seemed to lend credence to his initial conclusions:

Sheep, for some reason, created mass temporarily which then left. He theorised that a “soul portal” appeared shortly after death for some ‘lower’ life forms, which then removed their spirit to another plane of existence.

Dogs registered as “uniformly negative”, which he took as a positive sign- dogs, according to MacDougall, do not have souls- which we will touch on later in this post.

So, what does one largely discredited study have to do with anything? Why should we believe work which the scientific and global community has dismissed as “without scientific merit”? Well, because what most people don’t take into account is that while the MacDougal experiments as described in the 1907 Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research have never been replicated in America there have been certain “sister studies” carried out around the world.

Now, the people who carried out these experiments are largely regarded as amoral monsters or genocidal dictators, but the methodology by which they reached their conclusions is no longer relevant. Nazis, Soviets- they were disgusting people driven by hatred, but to ignore their results now would be to waste the sacrifices of their innocent subjects. Their involvement was, and will forever be a tragedy, but we must not let their loss be in vain.

The soviets in particular were fascinated by the nature of extra-sensory ability, this much is commonly known and popularised by the media in films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull- but no matter how disappointing and awful a movie may turn out to be it’s important to locate the kernel of truth that lies therein. During the cold war the Russians’ psi-ops division a massive number of experiments on both animals and prisoners of war (as documented in recently released documents from the C.I.A.’s Stargate Project, an astral projection/remote viewing experiment carried out between the 70s and 90s) which exposed the existence of what has been translated as “Biomatter”.

Biomatter, or Biomass has been largely covered up in a simple way- biomass is a term used in the description of biome development (referring to the sedimentary mass in lakes formed by the compaction of decomposing biological material) and as such any attempt to find information on it largely turns out biofuel engine data. In the 1970s “The Soul Project” was carried out in the USSR as a means to create intelligence operative capable of eluding all methods of detection. It was the equivalent of the C.I.A.’s aforementioned project Stargate. Unlike the USA though the USSR sought to quantify the abilities exhibited by extraordinary individuals. Jon Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare At Goats catalogues the C.I.A.’s efforts to create psychic super-soldiers, and I’d really recommend picking it up.

The Soul Project’s findings were this: Upon death the human body loses “Around 0.75 ounces” in weight. And what is 0.75 ounces in grams? You guessed it- 21.3. Two studies carried out seventy years apart from one another which came to the same conclusion. This, in regular scientific studies, is regarded as conclusive- however for some reason the scientific community rejects this evidence. There is, however, another Russian experiment which backs up the validity of MacDougall’s claims:

“Experiments in the Revival of Organisms”- a soviet experiment conducted in the 1940s. Video documentation can be viewed below, but it’s not recommended if you have a weak constitution:

Click here for the video

These tests were performed in the 1940s, and had extremely limited success (but their practical application has led to advances in medical science such as the heart and lung machine), and very few animals were capable of maintaining any kind of sentience or consciousness following their decapitation. One exception to this, as seen in the video, was cannis familliaris- the common house-dog. It is unknown as to why these animals had success, while their deceased cousins refused resuscitation and revitalization, but if we think back to MacDougall’s findings we can recall that dogs lost no mass following death. This means that they are an entirely corporeal entity and can be revived easily- just like restoring power to an ancient machine by refilling its fuel.

The conclusion we draw from this is that MacDougall was right- and while the soul may be ethereal it definitely has a physical impact upon the organisms it inhabits. This can be of great comfort, as it proves that there is something which exists- and current experiments with lucid dreams (whose validity has been confirmed) may help us to understand the physical nature of the soul.

Thank you for reading.

Oh, and since this is our first post on the main Spirit Science page, welcome to the Study of Spirit! I’m ThreeJumps, and you can read the blog itself (updated daily) here: http://thestudyofspirit.wordpress.com/

EXTRA: Fascinatingly, a contemporary Russian scientist claims to have created a camera capable of ‘seeing’ the moment the soul leaves the body, and has spent over 15 years perfecting it- to read more, click here: Linkity Link


  1. I wonder, what if you leave your body(Astral Projection)? Could the body mass instantly decrease by 21.3grams when the body is seperated?

  2. Hey ThreeJumps, welcome to Spirit Science! That was a great article. The implications of the dog not having a soul is indeed very interesting. What I’m wondering is, what if the dog is actually not meant to carry a soul of its own? What I mean is, dogs are pack animals, as in they live and hunt in groups in which each member of the group seems to know what each other are thinking in unison. What if the pack shared a soul? Maybe the Alpha-male is sort of the head of the soul unit. And nowadays, what if our current domestic dogs are essentially sharing the soul of the family it lives with/attaching itself etherically to the person it perceives as the alpha-male? Which also leads one to think, maybe the Alpha-male is sort of the carrier for the soul, and there should be some tests done specifically on the alpha-male of a pack. Regardless, I look forward to more of your work!