JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
Some twenty years ago the Chicago Times, which is no longer in existence, contained a two-column account from a correspondent in a western town regarding the photographing of the soul as it left the body. The correspondent graphically described the whole affair, giving in detail the modification made in the camera for the purpose, the special artificial light required and how it was obtained, the name of the individual, the disease of which he died, the name of the street and the number of the house and everything necessary to carry conviction that it was a record of an actual occurrence. Of course, the experiments were successful and a good photograph of the soul was obtained. The story took, was copied all over the country and commented on seriously. We are reminded of this by a report of similar experiments. During the past week the newspapers have contained an account of some remarkable experimental work conducted by a homeopathic physician of Haverhill, Mass. This gentleman had been pondering on the ponderability of the human soul and, to satisfy a craving for knowledge regarding this intangible but important nature of man, proceeded to weigh it. Just how he did it or what scales he used are details not furnished. It would be interesting to learn just how he knew when the soul left the body. As to this point, our Massachusetts scientist might have been aided in his experimental work had he known that he could obtain the cooperation of the gentleman who knew the facts, if he did not perform the experiments, regarding the photographing of the soul. We should be glad to give our Massachusetts friend the name of the gentleman who wrote the report for the Chicago Times, as he is still living and active. It is a pity that the two can not be brought together, for if we could get the soul weighed and photographed at the same time it would be laying a foundation for other investigations regarding this all important subject.
PHOTOGRAPHING AND WEIGHING THE SOUL.. JAMA. 2007;297(11):1264. doi:10.1001/jama.297.11.1264-c