It’s Time to Abandon the Irrational Concept of a Soul

While religion itself has received plenty of criticism over the past several years, the concept of the soul often gets a pass. Maybe it’s because the belief doesn’t do much damage, but it’s no more rational than a belief in God. There’s no evidence for it, you can’t sell it (I promise), and it really doesn’t weigh 21 grams.

Julien Musolino, a cognitive scientist and Associate Professor at Rutgers, has finally written a book debunking this idea that so many Americans hold dear. It’s bluntly titled The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain from Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs (Prometheus Books, 2015):

In the excerpt below, Musolino explains why the soul is a topic worth discussing:


What would possess someone to publicly blurt out, like the child in Andersen’s famous tale, that the emperor has no clothes, and worse, that he has no soul either? One of my favorite answers comes from one of my colleagues who once said, when asked a similar question: “I am paid to find out the truth and announce it!” (To be fair, this remark was probably made tongue-in-cheek, and besides, not all truths are born equal.) For those of us who are involved in the business of teaching psychology, neuroscience, or cognitive science, the soul certainly represents a perfect illustration of the proverbial elephant in the room.