Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Restligeists and Stone Tapes

In the lexicon of your average ghost hunter, you'll typically find between three and five classifications of hauntings. These range from the more sensational demonic and poltergeist types to the less violent, yet still interactive intelligent hauntings and shadow people and finally, the "residual haunting" or restligeist  (essentially "residual ghost"). This type is described as a non interactive scene from the past, played on loop, like a skipping record and can be represented by visual and auditory phenomena. The mechanism suggested to support this phenomena is localized minerals such as limestone and quartz act as a recording medium capturing the emotional energy resulting from a traumatic event, typically involving death. This conjecture presumes the existence of the non-conventional emotional energy despite no evidence supporting it and no known method of measuring or detecting it. While this fact invalidates the postulate outright, I want to delve a little further into the subject in order to discover the the possible rationale behind it. 
The second factor in the stone tape hypothesis rests upon the presence of quartz and limestone, the recording medium for the "energy" to be captured and replayed. Quartz is the most common mineral found in soil and limestone is prevalent many types of architecture and is also quite common. That properties do they have in common? The presence of silica is the only relation I'm aware of beyond the fact that quartz can be found in natural cavities of limestone. Between the two, quartz seems like a likely choice due to the new age fascination with crystals. Though crystals are thought to have paranormal qualities, one true property may be the source of the mystical misconception. Crystals are known to be piezoelectric, meaning that when the crystal is compressed, it's crystal lattice deforms and disturbs the charge balance.  When the lattice is changed slightly, the charge imbalance creates a potential difference, essentially producing electricity. While this property is fascinating, it lends no credence nor supports in any way the idea that it can record moments in time.
In typical fashion of paranormal theories, this concept has been copy/ pasted so many times over that it's become unclear where it originated, but it was likely born from the 1961 book Ghost and Ghoul by Thomas Lethbridge or Peter Sasdy's teleplay the Stone Tape, the latter being responsible for the name, at least.
Since ideas such as these have been passed back and forth so frequently and been adopted and promoted by television personalities, it's very unlikely that they will be abandoned, eternally being played in loop within the closed system of the paranormal community, a stone tape itself. A parting word of advice to paranormal investigators; If you want to be taken seriously by science, take science seriously. 

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