Change in human body weight after death; no change in dog body weight.

according to this thread

so, what is the real explanation for this change in weight that humans experience but dogs don’t?

I’m not wading through that thread to find this study. If you want to link to it here, fine. I doubt this “study” was very scientific. Occasionally, the bowels and bladder of a deceased person will evacuate, which might acount for it. But this also happens in animals, too. All things being equal, there will be no change in mass immediately after death–unless of course death was the result of bleeding to death, or decapitation. :smiley:

A small dog weighs about one tenths as much as a typical human. Perhaps his scale couldn’t resolve one tenth of an ounce which would be the same percentage difference in a dog. This, of course, assumes that the weight of a soul is a function of the weight of the body.


In order for this study to mean anything at all, you’d have to put the expiring people into a container through which no gases or liquids could pass. (This might explain why they expire.) The processes of respiration and perspiration would cause measurable changes in mass over even a short period of time, due to changes in the contents of the lungs, and loss of moisture. For what it’s worth, these changes would be smaller in a dog (smaller lungs, don’t really perspire) and therefore harder to measure.

But it’s a bit difficult to imagine that one would have the circumstances to actually perform the weighing task in the isolation needed for any sort of scientific accuracy – it would be pretty cold to allow someone to pass away in a box on a scale.

Thinking about this further, how could the experimenter know with arbitrary certainty when his subjects were about to expire, in order to weight them just prior to the moment of death? Even a few hours could impair the study, particularly as patients in a near-death condition are frequently catheterized–the change in weight due to urine evacuation could be easily measurable. No, I’ll cal bullshit on this “study” until shown some hard data.

Here’s a link to the 1907 study probably alluded to in the other thread. Sorry for the cheesy cite - probably appropriate considering the “study”.

A famous french king (sorry, I can’t remember the names) once asked his court why pigeons (maybe it was ducks) weigh less immediately after death. The court scientists were stumped to come up with an explanation.

Then some famous french scientist showed up and actually
had the courage to doubt the king’s assertion. He weighted several specimens before and after death and found no difference. I think he ended up losing his own head for showing that the king was actually fallible!

I am pretty sure that the Soul Substance is made up of the Ether, and is therefore not gravitative.

I am pretty sure that the Soul Substance is made up of the Ether, and is therefore not gravitative.

If a god existed that created souls, I doubt it would make them so that they could be affected by physical forces like gravity. If a person dies by being spaghettified past the event horizon of a black hole, then their soul would be shredded to!

This was discussed at some length a while back as part of a thread discussing the existence or nonexistence of proof of the supernatural.

The studies were supposedly undertaken in or before 1907 by an American doctor named Duncan MacDougall who ran a sanitorium. The human volunteers were suffering from debillitating diseases such as tuberculosis. Subjects were placed on a bed which rigged up to a scale. I am guessing that this probably did not provide razor-sharp, inarguably accurate measurements.

Not all of the people who died were observed to lose weight, and those who did varied considerably as to how soon their weight loss was observed following the cessation of vital signs. As MacDougall had no definition in advance of when, exactly, the point of death was reached, it appears that he connected the moment of death to weight loss rather than weight loss to the moment of death.

His reasoning with respect to the dogs he dispatched was also circular. He argued that his method of killing the dogs vitiated the results; that is, he couldn’t get a proper measurement because he was messing up the measurement process when poisoning the dogs.

He was, however, in a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose position. He could interpret his results to prove virtually any preconceived conclusion. MacDougall assumed that dogs had souls which had measurable weight. If he had other prejudices, he could as easily have argued that his experiment showed that the dogs had no souls, or that they had souls but that they remained in the bodies after death. I recall that when I was in grade school the parish priests told my classmates and I that dogs had souls but that they were only “dog souls”; it appeared to be solid dogma that a dog’s soul was mortal, so I guess that means they would stay inside the bodies at death–that is, if a soul is literally “inside” a body to start with.

The British Parapsychologist Susan J. Blackmore wrote about MacDougall’s experiments in an interesting book called Beyond the Body and, I believe, mentions them in at least one other, later book. She also discusses the work of a researcher named H. L. Twining who conducted experiments on insects in the 1930s.

Twining found that there was a minute loss of weight after an insect was killed, but only if the container in which the insect was confined was not airtight. There would seem to be at least two ways of interpreting this. One is to suppose that an insect’s soul can get out of its body, but can’t pass through a glass beaker. The other is to surmise that all any of these researchers has ever really done is measure the natural loss of moisture and gas from a corpse.