The Stone Tape Projector – Science?

The ‘Psychic and Science‘ stage show stars alleged psychic Derek Acorah, and television “historian” Richard Felix, who both worked on most Haunted together when it was still on air. The shows website entices potential audience members: ‘Experience amazing and incredible sights and occurrences as the two celebrity Psychic and Scientific investigators explore, explain and decipher the existence of the paranormal.’

The website goes on to list the various techniques that will be used, including Psychic readings from Derek on stage, explanations of the realities of ghosts from Richard, Glass Divination, Table Tilting, and Human Pendulum live on stage (with audience participation), A chance for 1 lucky person to conduct a lone vigil in a haunted part of the location, 10 audience members will take part in a seance with Derek in a haunted location, Q & A session with Derek and Richard, and a spectacular Grand Finale using The Revolutionary Stone Tape Projector.

The what now?‘ you might ask, and until yesterday I was right there with you. Many have heard of the Stone Tape Theory that suggests the very fabric of a location can capture the events that happen there, for those events to be replayed years later, often in ghostly form. I can remember being a rookie ghost hunter and being told that those ghosts who walk through doors that are no longer there are ‘probably caused by the stone tape effect’.

I did a little digging, and the first mention I found of the Stone Tape Projector was an article in the York Press where the paper reported

Derek and Richard will try to bring an apparition out of the stonework of the old York Prison, using the Stone Tape Projector. “This will test our theory of traumatic events being recorded in the fabric of a building – in other words, can the walls talk?” ask the psychic and scientific investigators.”

This still didn’t reveal the technicality of this method though, and so I spoke to a contact of mine who has the inside scoop on the Psychic and Science stage shows who told me that

Basically, the idea was that if the Stone Tape Theory worked, they would pump power into the object, which then fed back into the machine. This was then ‘projected’ out via the Plasma bulbs… but to ‘project’ the image from the bulbs, they had to use a smoke machine to ‘cast the image’ onto because they didn’t have a screen.
 A member of York Skeptics attended one of the stage shows in York and reported on the show for the York Skeptics Blog. Of the Stone Tape Projector they said

The audience were invited to take lots of photographs and look for faces. I took over 150 and did not see a single face, but other people were much more fortunate, with a number of ghostly apparitions caught on camera.

I found the following photos on the Psychic and Science Facebook page which appear to show the Stone Tape Projector in action which show exactly what is happening on stage. The use of a smoke machine instead of a screen helps people see faces – faces that are illusions caused by the blue light being cast onto the swirling and moving smoke. This is something often known as simulacrum or the Pareidolia effect. Those observing this taking place don’t see the faces with their naked eye because the swirling shapes and patterns of the light and smoke are moving so fast, yet a camera will capture a still frame of this movement, and the movement and shapes caused by the smoke coupled with the light causes illusions.
In the second photo you can see a face like illusion at the lower part of the blue area. This was sent to me by an audience member who was convinced they had captured a hangman in this photo. I also can’t help but notice a screen in the background of the second image… was the smoke really needed after all? I suspect not, and I suspect that it is added for theatrical effect which is fair enough. However it is slightly concerning that people are leaving these shows thinking they have really experienced a ghost because of dodgy techniques like this.
The Stone Tape Projector relies on a scientifically weak hypothesis, and a sciene-y looking set up on stage to convince people that they’re experiencing something genuinely paranormal as the finale of this show. There is nothing credible about this technique whatsoever.

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Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

10 thoughts on “The Stone Tape Projector – Science?”

    1. Instrumental Trans-Communication. Spirit communication through electronic devices. The word was coined in the 70’s.

  1. Stone Tape Projector – What a load of rubbish!

    If there was some way the fabric of a building could ‘record’ past events then it would hardly be in a form that was readable.

    As an analogue, imagine recording over and over again on a piece of magnetic tape without ever doing any erasing. What you would end up with is just a load of uncorrelated noise.

    There may well be ‘ghosts’, I’m still waiting for some proof, however the York Roman soldiers walking (with bodies visible from the knees up) would more likely be due to a ‘time anomaly’ rather than any form of ‘spirit’ manifestation.

    1. Are they necessarily vulnerable people though, Susan? Some may be uninformed, others true believers, or some may have gone for entertainment purposes only.

      The more I see of this stuff the more convinced I become that the stage is the best fit for this kind of nonsense. The scrapings from the bottom of the oal barrel.

  2. “Psychic and Science” is organized by Richard and Denise Mott of Compass Paranormal Events.

    Whom I’ve given the article web address too, so perhaps they may have a view and piece here in reply.

    Stone tape theory is of a course a theory, re-occurring events played like a video in real time 3D like holograms… imagine media companies capabilities if such a field genuinely could be harnessed? However don’t see Sony breaking up old buildings and places of reported hauntings to find out.

    When I give talks and discussions about the unexplained, I sometimes float towards reports of phantom hitchhikers and the topic of 3D holographic-like recordings being played back.
    Namely for attendees to think not of just a single perspective to a haunting or alleged experience. but as a way to consider physical interaction, mass and matters of light.

    1. Kristian – When you say: “… imagine media companies capabilities if such a field genuinely could be harnessed?” – you sound as if you believe that a “Stone Tape” phenomenon might one day be possible!

      You’ve no idea of the processes required other than they would, presumably, be “scientific” in some way? Just because someone ‘imagines’ that a particular outcome could, perhaps, occur doesn’t mean that it will ever be possible. Flying pigs spring to mind.

      Perhaps you’re looking forward to, one day, playing your first game of Quidditch?

      These pseudo-scientific activities do nothing to advance knowledge of any possible ‘paranormal activity’ – they just separate gullible people from their money. It’s all rubbish.

      As for Derek Acorah, I think he’s been proved to be as psychic as my electric toaster.

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