I often hear people claim that it is a fact that humans lose seven pounds when they die. Some people believe that this is 'proof' of the existence of the 'soul'. Is there any truth to this claim? I could understand a weight change after death but not a consistent one between people of different sizes.

N.B. I personally don't believe this to be true. Just thought it was a good question to ask on here.

  • Eventually the body will dehydrate, causing loss of mass. But I doubt that's what the myth is about :)
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 21:07
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    7 pounds or 7 grams? I am certain that people do not lose 7 pounds the instant they die, 7 grams would be much more difficult to measure and I would be more likely to believe that (it could happen e.g. due to evaporating more water from your skin as the properties of the tissues change.) Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:51
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    We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 1:09
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    What if you have a fat soul? Do you lose like 50 pounds when you die?
    – SSpoke
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 7:31
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    @MartinScharrer - See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_MacDougall_%28doctor%29
    – Jamiec
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


No we don't. I don't know where you got that claim from because it's not linked in the question (do link it in the question, if you can).

There is a similar myth that upon dying a body weighs 21 grams less - this is due to a (flawed) experiment performed by a Dr Duncan MacDougal. His results were never replicated and are considered to have little if no scientific merit.

More info here:

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    Unfortunately it is just people I have talked to so don't have a link. It seems there is a Yahoo answers question about it but I don't feel comfortable linking to Yahoo Answers as "source".
    – seadowg
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 13:04
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    @Oetzi: while Yahoo answers isn't a very good source to cite in an answer, I think it'd be more OK to use it in a question, if all you're trying to show is that this is actually a phenomenon that some people believe exists. Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 15:31

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