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The Stone Tape Theory

 

The Stone Tape theory is the speculation that ghosts, and hauntings are similar to tape recordings, and that mental impressions during emotional or traumatic events can be projected in form of energy that is then "recorded" onto rocks and other items and "replayed" under certain conditions. The idea draws shares similarities with views of 19th century intellectualists and psychic researchers, such as Charles Babbage, Eleonor Sidgwick and Edmund Gurney. Contemporary, the concept was popularized by 1972 Christmas ghost story called The Stone Tape, produced by the BBC. Following the movie's popularity, the idea and "stone tape" term was retrospectively and inaccurately attributed to British archaeologist turned parapsychologist-T. C. Lethbridge, who believed that ghosts were not spirits of the deceased but were simply non-interactive recordings similar to a movie.

The idea that environmental elements are capable of storing traces of human thoughts or emotions was introduced by multiple 19th century scholars and philosophers as an attempt to provide natural explanations for supernatural phenomena.

[0pokijIn 1837 polymath Charles Babbage published a work on natural theology called Ninth Bridgewater Treatise. Babbage speculated, that spoken words leave permanent impressions in the air, even though they become inaudible after time. He suggested that it is possible due to transfer of motion between particles.

"Stone tape theory" could also be derived from concept of "place memory". In the early days of Society for Psychical Research place memory was considered an explanation for ghostly apparitions, seemingly connected with certain places. In late 19th century, two of SPR involved investigators- Edmund Gurney and Eleonor Sidgwick, presented views about certain buildings or materials being capable of storing records of past events, which can be later play backed by gifted individuals. Another 19th century idea associated with "Stone Tape Theory" is psychometry - a belief, that it is possible to obtain knowledge about history associated with an object through physical contact with it.

In the 20th century, the idea that objects are able to store and playback past events was re-introduced in 1939 and 1940 by then SPR president- H. H. Price. Price speculated about "psychic ether" as an intermediate medium between spiritual and physical reality, which can enable objects to carry memory traces of emotions or experiences from the past. In his works, he stated that existence of such traces should be provable by means of scientific methods and that they yet remain unproved hypotheses. Following Price' ideas, an archaeologist turned paranormal researcher- T. C. Lethbridge, claimed, that past events can be stored in objects thanks to fields of energy, that he believed to surround streams, forests or mountains. His 1961 book Ghost and Ghoul popularized these ideas which allegedly could have inspired creators of 1972 BBC movie-The Stone Tape.

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