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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (March 22, 1907)
VOLUME 7, NUMBER 10
WEIGHING THE SOUL
1 A peculiar and Interesting dispatch
la printed by tho Now York World,
undor dato of JJoston, Muss., March
10. Tho dispatch follows:
Five iMasHachtiHotlH physicians of
tho highest professional standing have
Just attained what tlioy believe to bo
decisive results In tho investigation,
rovorently undertaken, to dctormine
lho existence or non-existence of a
soul In the human body, and to deter-
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"Letters to a Chinese Official"
Being a Reply to "LETTERS FROM A CHINESE OFFICIAL"
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mine also whether 'the departure of
that soul from a human body is at
tended by any manifestation of a na
turo that can bo made evident to ma
These investigations, guarded with
tho utmost privacy, have continued
about six years in a sanitarium in this
state. The results are known to but
half a dotfen scientists, although" it is
planned to intake the whole discovery
public sooii. . '
Tho nhyslblahs say that through
their researches the human soul hn
at last been catalogued upon sclen-i
tific principles as an actuar material
thing, that when this soul Hits from
tho body It diminishes the weight "of
the body by a certain measurable
amount and this amount can ber
weighed in actual o.unces. '
The difference between the weight;
of the live human body and tho body
a moment after death, or when thej
soul has quit it, was found to be from
half an ounce to one ounce, and .td
I his it is said there can bo no other,
possible explanation than that it is tho
weight of tho human soul.
In every case tho loss was shown
after all known scientific deductions,
such as the loss of respiratory air, of
moisture and of all excretions and
excretions of tho body had been taken
In order that the experimenting
physician might accurately ascertain
that this unaccountable loss was not
ditp to sonic peculiar physical charac
teristic of sex, both men and women
have boon subjects of tho experiments.
Tlio method of finding this result, as
followed by tho doctors, Avas to place
tho dying patients in bed upon one of
tho platforms of a pair of scales made
expressly for the experiments. Those
scales were so delicately constructed
as to be sensitive to a weight of less
than one-tenth of an ounce.
It was the desire of Dr. Duncan
MacDougal, of Haverhill, to give no
publicity to the facts until they wove
established beyond all doubt. He ex
pressed surprise that his discovery
should bo known outside the Research
club, but reluctantly consented to an
He is a believer in neither spiritual
Ism nor mysterious psychic phenomena
except as they can bo dealt with by
science, and he began his statement
with the declaration that his experi
ments were made purely, with the idea
of establishing scientific facts. '
"During my practice among hospital
patients and at the bedside of the dy
ing my curiosity was aroused as tp
whether there might be some material
change discoverable by actual tests
which would throw a new light upon
the mystery of tho flight of life," he
"When a person dies the current be
lief is that his spirit, or soul, continiWs
to live. My first though was: Has
continued consciousness and nersonal
individuality any existence? Can tt
exist In space as nothing? It is known
as a force, as a personality, real and
actual. It is impossible to think of it
as not occupying space. It must be a
space-occupying body. With that
granted, tho next' query was: Has it
weight? Is it gravitated matter . or
some other form of unknown defini
tion? Forthwith I began my experi
ments? "Four other physicians, under my
direction, made tho first test upon a
patient dying with tuberculosis. This
man was one of the ordinary type, of
the usual- Amorican temperament,
neither particularly high-strung nor of
marked phlegmatic disposition. We
placed him a few hours preceding
deaUi upon a scale platform which I
had constructed and which was ac
curately balanced. Four hours later
with five doctors -in attendance, -iio
died. The instant life ceased tho op
posite scale foil with a suddenness
that was astonishing, as if something
had been suddenly lifted -from the
"Immediately all tho usual deduc
tions were made for physical loss, of
weight, and it was discovered that
there was still a full ounce of weight
"My fellow physicians were mysti
fied and only half convinced. I, my
self, had grave doubts, that our -calculations
were correct. Otherwise, how,
was it possible .t,o acqount for this,
strange loss? There was no known
scientific manner of doing "so.
. "As a result of this doubt I sub-
knitted another subject afllicted with
the same urease and Hearing- death to
the same experiments. .He was a man
of much the same temperament as the
preceding patient and of about tho
same physical type. ,
"The same result happened at the
passing of ills life. The instant the
heart ceased to boat .there was the sud
den and almost uncanny dimlnish
ment of weight. . As experimenters,
each physician in attendance made
Jigures of his own concerning this loss,
.and, at a consultation, these figures
were compared. The unaccountable
loss continued to be shown.
"Tlio question then arose as to what
the loss meant. If was a loss of sub
stance, which could be obtained in
known figures, and, which was also
such a singularly appreciable loss as
to place it beyond all doubt that it
might be due to any error-4n calcula
tion. The two separate differences
obtained correspond, each being of
about an ounce. But this was less re
markable than what took place in the
third case. Tho subject was that of
a man of larger physical build, witlt a
pronounced sluggish temperament.
"When life ceased, as the body lay
In bed upon the scales', for a full miu
ute there appeared to be no change in
weight. The pliyslcians waiting in the
room looked .into each other's faces,
silently shaking their heads in tho nnn-
iviction that our test had failed. ,
"Then suddenly, the. same thing
happened that had occurred' In' the
other cases. There was a sudden di
minishment in weight, which was
soon found to be the same as that of
the preceding experiments.
"I believe that in this case that of
a phlegmatic man, slow of thought
and action the soul remained sus
pended in the body after death, during
the minute that elapsed before it came
to tho consciousness of its freedom.
There is no other way of accounting
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