The title refers to a belief propagated by the early 20th century research of physician Dr. Duncan MacDougall which attempted to show scientific proof of the existence of the immortal human soul by recording a small loss of body weight (representing the departure of the soul) immediately following death. The research by MacDougall attempted to follow the scientific method and showed some variance in results (21 grams is the reported weight loss from the death of the first patient). His final report was not fully recognized by the scientific community at the time.

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