Perhaps you’ve heard the biblical expression that one should “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) as a way of weeding out false prophets.

Have you considered weighing the spirit?

In today’s News & Observer, columnist John Shaffer reports that the Rhine Research Center in Durham, NC will host a series of experiments this summer to determine how much the human soul weighs. If you can measure the weight of a soul, the study’s sponsor argues, you can prove scientifically that souls exist.

This will not be the first attempt to weigh souls. More than 100 years ago, Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts persuaded six patients dying of tuberculosis to be strapped to a scale when they died, so he could see how much weight they lost when their souls departed. His conclusion? The soul must weigh about 21 grams (three-quarters of an ounce), since that was the average weight loss he recorded at their deaths.

The upcoming study at the Rhine Center — named for former Duke professor and psychic researcher J.B. Rhine — plans to measure the soul’s weight without requiring subjects to expire. Texas oil man Jerry Conser, president of the Psychical Research Foundation, has recruited subjects who are reportedly so skilled in having out-of-body experiences that they can do so at will.

The plan is to put the spiritual travelers on a scale and track any weight changes when their souls leave and return to their bodies. Each subject will take at least six out-of-body excursions in order to amass more data. If he can demonstrate a regular weight change, Conser says, he’ll escalate the pilot project into a “full-blown, several years study.”

If the study is successful, perhaps he can also answer the question that struck me when reading the article. Will subjects who eat a lot of soul food have heavier souls?


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