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Featured Dr MacDougall and the 21-gram Soul

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by blü 2, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    X is about to die.

    At the moment of death, his soul will depart from his body.

    Since the soul is real, his body will lose weight as a result.

    Therefore the mass of his soul can be determined by comparing his just-before-death weight with his just-after weight.

    So reasoned Dr Duncan MacDougall, publishing his results in 1907. They showed that of six such experiments, one showed a loss of 3/4th of an ounce / 21.3 grams. Therefore not conclusive, said the doctor. >More here<.

    But the question was essentially a good one, was it not? If the soul is real / has objective existence / is not imaginary then it will have real qualities such as mass, won't it?

    So why haven't churches who think the soul is real pursued such experiments further? Surely they must have a healthy curiosity to discover what the facts are?

    Or is there a tacit acknowledgement that the soul is imaginary (is 'spirit') and such experiments can only end in embarrassment?
     
  2. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    He was a doctor from 1901 for which four of his experiments had varied results. The four lost weight and two did not. Results were not always repeatable, and in fact some bodies actually gain weight first then lose weight while others lose weight but only over a long period of time.

    Modern medicine is proven a lot of this comes from the fact that when we die our bodies leak, discharge of body fluids and matter like that from bowels, and also temperature changes and the release of enzymes within the body can affect weight.

    It's pretty much something that has been debunked enough among scientific circles to explain well enough, it yet unsurprisingly is being kept 'alive' through efforts of Supernatural proponents, believers of the paranormal, and theists.

    Assuming there is consistency with each experiment which in reality there isn't any but let's just say there was consistent that 21 G was lost each and every time according to Dr. McDougall in 1901.

    Try using the 21g loss in Albert Einstein's equation involving conversion of energy! See what you come up with. Wow!!!!

    People had put it on the same scale as a half megaton TNT explosion at the time of death!!
    Maybe that's where the saying, Going out with a bang comes from! *Grin*

    Either way, the bottom line is the results are inconsistent and definitely not repeatable.

    A lot has passed since 1901 to where we are now in 2018 , so it's pretty safe to say it's been pretty well debunked. At least in "proof" of there being a soul.
     
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  3. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    But my question is, why aren't the theists seriously curious about it? It would be direct evidence of a major element of what they assert.
    The life force as the energy equivalent of 21 grams of matter? Wow, deaths would have formidable military value!
    MacDougall's result (which he acknowledged was inconclusive) has been debunked, but if souls are real, then he was asking the right question. If they're not real, then it doesn't matter, and it seems a lot of people, contrary to what they say, act like souls aren't real.
     
  4. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    So how much does energy weigh?
    Energy itself does not have mass.
    though mass inevitably converts to energy.
    and in some respects energy and mass are interchangeable.
    Life force has none of the characteristics of physical forces.
     
  5. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    That's why I tend to refer to it as mass-energy. The mass is equal to (the energy divided by the speed of light squared).
    I'm not aware of any 'life force' as such, simply the set of bioelectrical / biochemical complexes that keep any living thing alive. Which is why people die if critical elements of that set are sufficiently damaged.

    And if there's a real soul in there, then it will have mass-energy. If it's only imaginary, then it won't.
     
  6. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing you must be a traditional materialist?
     
  7. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    I suppose, there would need to be a requirement to have first established a foreknowledge of what a Soul's kinetic energy would be to start with.

    Or to put it another way, how would a person go about calculating a Soul's kinetic energy?
     
  8. Nous

    Nous Well-Known Member
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    Photons do not have mass. To assert that the quantities representing their energy or momentum are mass does not change the fact that photons do not have a property than can be determined by their weight.

    Information, as the term is used in physics, is measurable but does not possess mass.

    There seems to be no reason to conclude that there do not exist phenomena smaller than Planck length, even though such phenomena would have no location in spacetime. (See the OP here: Phenomena Smaller than Planck Length? ) Certainly such phenomena could not even theoretically be weighed, nor could any mass they might possess be theoretically detected.
     
  9. WalterTrull

    WalterTrull Godfella

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    Because it's non-sequitur
     
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  10. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    A materialist indeed, but only for want of a reasoned alternative.
     
  11. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Proof of a soul is of no consequence to theists?
    Surely you are joking.
     
  12. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    I've never understood the difference in physics between 'information' and 'data', so I use the latter word. It avoids hinting at a somehow-sentient universe.
    We can imagine there's a realm of unknown phenomena all smaller than the Planck length (though Bell's theorem may raise difficulties for such an idea) and therefore, as we presently understand things, unknowable in principle.

    We can imagine that this sub-Planck operates according to rules (again unknowable in principle) and is thus capable of generating and supporting complex structures consistent in formation, kind and operation.

    We can imagine that one of those complex structures is a soul.

    We can imagine that such a soul is capable of discriminating in the macro world of the brain so that it permanently associates itself with one and only one brain (one particular set of macro-physical bioelectrical and biochemical functions) though only for so long as that brain remains functional in human terms.

    We can imagine that a soul in doing so might be useful for something relevant to humans, though again it would be impossible in principle to say what.

    We can imagine that communication between such a sub-Planck system and the macro-world brain is possible, though the extent to which even the quantum realm, let alone a sub-Planck realm, can affect the operations of the brain is unclear.

    But I doubt whether, at the end of all that imagining, we would have achieved anything that anyone could take seriously, given the necessarily total absence of evidence. Would not such a soul be no different to the present concept of the soul, namely whatever the wisher wishes it to be?
     
  13. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Ahm ... why is it a non-sequitur?

    If you believe that you have a soul, and that it's real / has objective existence / is not imaginary, why would you not hold a genuine curiosity to know the truth about it? Perhaps such an understanding could lead to the curing of mental illness? An end to apostasy? A clear view of what religions have in common hence a clearer view of the true god?

    Of course if you believe you have a soul, but only an imaginary one, none of that applies.
     
  14. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    If something so simple to test had any legs it would have long ago become common knowledge.
    Half the seriously ill patients in modern ICUs are lying on weighing beds anyway. Any changes at death would be immediately noted.
     
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  15. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    And would be mentioned in sermons, studied for D.Th. theses, and be general knowledge among believers?

    But it isn't. Why not?
     
  16. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Because there's no evidence of any weight loss occurring?
     
  17. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Surely that is information about the soul?

    That it's imaginary, for example?
     
  18. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    It's good to set honest limits. I'm very skeptical of massless particles, like gravitons, myself.

    So what really is gravity? Does it exist if gravitons are just ideas that you can't weigh?

    A soul with weight is rather meaningless to most people who believe in such things, since most of them believe it's supernatural and wouldn't have weight. It seems like an artifact from a bygone time. Being skeptical of something not even the believers believe doesn't seem all that useful, IMO.
     
  19. Nous

    Nous Well-Known Member
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    Information in physics is a mathematical entity, i.e., a quantity. In the most non-technical sense, information is the resolution of (an) uncertainty. See: https://phys.org/news/2016-07-refutes-famous-physical.html All of the answers there are informative.

    In any case, in response to the question in your OP: information definitely does not possess mass.

    In fact, a recent study showed that the assumption by which Ralph Landauer asserted that "information is physical"--i.e., is logically irreversible--is false:

    The motivation that led Bennet to introduce logical reversible operations was to overcome the minimum energy expenditure introduced earlier by Landauer. Bennet wrote:

    "Landauer has posed the question of whether logical irreversibility is an unavoidable feature of useful computers, arguing that it is, and has demonstrated the physical and philosophical importance of this question by showing that whenever a physical computer throws away information about its previous state it must generate a corresponding amount of entropy. Therefore, a computer must dissipate at least kBT ln2 of energy (about 3 X 10-21 Joule at room temperature) for each bit of information it erases or otherwise throws away."

    This limit was generally attributed to all the logical irreversible devices, and among them, the traditional logic gates like "OR", "AND" and "NAND." The work of Landauer and Bennet inspired a significant amount of scientific literature opposing or supporting the existence of such a minimum limit. It's no exaggeration to state that for more than 40 years, the topic has been considered highly controversial.

    Now, an experiment has settled this controversy. It clearly shows that there is no such minimum energy limit and that a logically irreversible gate can be operated with an arbitrarily small energy expenditure. Simply put, it is not true that logical reversibility implies physical irreversibility, as Landauer wrote.

    The results of this experiment by the scientists of NiPS Laboratory at the University of Perugia are published today in Nature Communications. They measured the amount of energy dissipated during the operation of an "OR" gate (that is clearly a logically irreversible gate) and showed that the logic operation can be performed with an energy toll as small as 5 percent of the expected limit of kBT ln2. The conclusion of the Nature Communications article is that there is no fundamental limit and reversible logic is not required to operate computers with zero energy expenditure.​

    [. . . ]

    Though Landauer famously said "information is physical," it turns out that information is not so physical after all.​

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2016-07-refutes-famous-physical.html#jCp

    I don't know of anything relating to Bell's theorem that raises any difficulty in assuming the existence of phenomena smaller the Planck Length.

    As the 2 sources linked to at my above post explain, phenomena smaller than Planck length have no location in spacetime and are inherently unmeasurable.

    Fermilab Today notes:

    When you scatter a particle of light off another particle -- say an atom -- the atom's gravitational attraction to the light particle causes an intrinsic uncertainty in the atom's location. Mead used the uncertainty principle and the gravitational effect of the photon to show that it is impossible to determine the position of an object to a precision smaller than the Planck length.​

    According to the explanation at Futurism:

    If two particles were separated by the Planck length, or anything less, then it is impossible to actually tell their positions apart. Moreover, any effects of quantum gravity at this scale (if there are any) are entirely unknown as space itself is not properly defined. In a sense, you could say that, even if we were to develop methods of measurements that took us down to these scales, we would never be able to measure anything smaller despite any sort of improvements to our equipment or methods.​

    Obviously there is no rational reason to impose the requirement of location for the psyche, soul, consciousness, etc., that one cannot impose on phenomena smaller than Planck length.

    Indeed, assuming the basic tenet of reductionism, in which causation arises from the smallest or most fundamental "level" of empirical reality, then causes would arise from those phenomena smaller than Planck length.
     
  20. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    the Soul of God equals one universe (one word)
     
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