The Stone Tape theory is the speculation that ghosts and hauntings are analogous to tape recordings, and that electrical mental impressions released during emotional or traumatic events can somehow be “stored” in moist rocks and other items and “replayed” under certain conditions. The idea was first proposed by British archaeologist turned parapsychologist Thomas Charles Lethbridge in 1961. Lethbridge believed that ghosts were not spirits of the deceased, but were simply non-interactive recordings similar to a movie. The idea was popularized in 1972 in a Christmas ghost story called The Stone Tape, produced by the BBC.

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Proposed in the 1970s as a possible explanation for ghosts. The Stone Tape Theory speculates that inanimate materials can absorb energy from living beings. In other words a ‘recording’ or track is laid down during moments of high tension, such as murder. This stored energy can consequently be released, resulting in a display of the recorded activity. The replay can take the form of a full manifestation or partial sounds such as voices or footsteps. Paranormal investigators commonly refer to such phenomena as residual hauntings. Ghosts are not spirits but non-interactive recordings similar to the registration capacities of an audiotape machine that can playback previously recorded events. While the theory may explain some ghostly sightings, no one knows what the recorded energy actually is. However, the possibility that it could be composed by our natural electric and magnetic fields is one of the explanations that the Stone Tape Theory advances.