DURHAM -- For at least 100 years, the more oddball branches of science have struggled to answer this metaphysical head-scratcher: How much does the human soul weigh?
In 1907, a Massachusetts doctor named Duncan MacDougall settled on the figure of 21 grams – the average weight loss experienced by six terminal tuberculosis patients he strapped to a scale at the moment of death.
A dozen years ago, an Oregon rancher named Lew Hollander tried to measure the souls of one ram, seven ewes, three lambs and a goat. His findings: The animals actually gained weight as they shook off this mortal coil – anywhere from 18 to 780 grams.
Now this summer, the Rhine Research Center in Durham will host the latest experiment aimed at nailing down the intangible essence of mankind.
The method: 1.) Stand on a scale. 2.) Have an out-of-body experience. 3.) Record weight.
“We want to have irrefutable evidence to present to the scientific community,” said Jerry Conser, a Dallas oil man and psychic researcher who came up with the idea. “We’re going to have a hurry-up, quick-and-dirty series of experiments. If we can show consistently and repeatedly that every time somebody goes out of body, there’s a corresponding weight change ...”
I’ll finish the sentence. It would be awesome.
The Rhine Center, named for the psychic research pioneer J.B. Rhine, is famous for probing into the world of unexplained phenomena: ESP, near-death experience, poltergeists.
Rhine himself was best-known for his ESP queries, including one that involved a mind-reading horse named Lady Wonder. But he also dabbled in the geography of man’s inner identity, penning an article in 1946 entitled, “Scientific Evidence Man Has a Soul.”
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