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. Philosopher H. H. Price also hypothesized a similar concept in 1940. 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.
In their book How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age, authors Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn dismissed the idea as an irrational claim, stating, "The problem is that we know of no mechanism that could record such information in a stone or play it back. Chunks of stone just do not have the same properties as reels of tape."
Richard Wiseman has also written there is no scientific evidence for the stone tape theory of ghosts. According to Wiseman the idea is "completely implausible – as far as we know, there is no way that information about events can be stored in the fabric of a building."
- Colin Stanley (2011), Around the Outsider: Essays Presented to Colin Wilson on the Occasion of His 80th Birthday, John Hunt Publishing, pp. 296–, ISBN 978-1-84694-668-4
- Theodore Schick; Lewis Vaughn (2 February 2013), How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age: Seventh Edition, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, ISBN 978-0-07-752631-3,
The problem is that we know of no mechanism that could record such information in a stone or play it back. Chunks of stone just do not have the same properties as reels of tape. Even magnetic tape can't record sound or video without a special recording head. Speaking to a magnetic tape will not record anything. Nor can one hear what's recorded on a magnetic tape by putting it up to one's ear. In both cases, a special device like a read/write head is needed, and the stone tape theory provides no clue as to what such a device would be.p-326
- Richard Wiseman. (2011). Paranormality: Why We see What Isn't There. Macmillan. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-230-75298-6