The weight of the soul


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The concept of the soul has always aroused great interest in humanity. Perhaps because it is something ethereal, incorporeal, since it lacks a physical entity or a material container, because it has that part of mysticism, because of its relationship with spirituality and because of our taste for magic and acts of faith, it has penetrated so deeply and has caused so many philosophers and other professionals of science, such as psychologists or neuroscientists, for example, to try to find some explanation and, moreover, some location in human beings. Thus we find Eduard Punset’s book entitled El Alma está en el Cerebro.

During the writing of El Ocaso de los Días, there was a moment in the narrative when I considered talking about the weight of the soul, those famous 21 grams that are said to be lost at death. There is a very specific moment in the novel in which I thought it would fit perfectly, which would also give it an interesting punch of effect and a certain dose of additional poetry (I can’t tell you here about that specific moment in case you haven’t read the book yet, although I will be happy to tell you about it if you send me an email).

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Surely many of you remember the movie in which Naomi Watts appears, if my memory serves me correctly, which is titled precisely like that, 21 Grams. At the time, I liked it a lot and, to a certain extent, it had an impact on me. I guess that’s why this idea suddenly came to my mind, because it was stored in some remote corner of my memory.

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So I started researching about this to see if it had any scientific basis before including it in my book. Reading around, I discovered that there was a doctor in the twentieth century, a certain Duncan McDougal, who held this theory and who even did some experiments with some kind of scales to prove his hypothesis. This theory had quite a lot of repercussion, since it was spread through the New York Times, it seems, before it was even analyzed by a peer group, that is, by other colleagues in the scientific field who were willing to test his hypothesis and refute his theory.

However, although this physician tenaciously defended his conclusions, it has been shown that his research was methodologically flawed and that in no case did it prove that the soul had any weight.

Even so, doesn’t it seem to you an idea that has a certain romanticism? Maybe that’s why it worked so well in the movies?

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