Serios, Ted (1918– )
A former Chicago bellhop, born November 27, 1918, with
a claimed ability to project photographic images onto camera
film by staring into the lens of a Polaroid camera. He sometimes
used a piece of rolled cardboard to look into the camera
lens at the moment the picture was taken. This ‘‘gismo,’’ as he
called it, tended to arouse suspicions of fraud, although there
was no evidence that it was a device for trickery. Serios also produced
images using a camera without a lens.
A report of Serios’s strange talent by Pauline Oehler of the
Illinois Society for Psychic Research was published in Fate magazine.
Curtis Fuller, proprietor of Fate, sent a copy of the article
to parapsychologist Jule Eisenbud, and as a result Eisenbud
conducted an extensive investigation of Serios’s phenomena in
1964, the results of which were published in The World of Ted
Serios ‘‘Thoughtographic’’ Studies of an Extraordinary Mind (1966).
Eisenbud found the phenomena as erratic as Serios himself,
but probably genuine.
Critics charged fraud and James Randi claimed to have
been able to reproduce pictures like Serios’s by use of a ‘‘gizmolike’’
device. While Randi had suggested a means by which the
pictures could be reproduced, at least those in which Serios
held the camera in his hand and used the cardboard device, he
did not explain how the pictures were produced when the camera
was at some distance. Among some of the extraordinary images
produced by Serios with a Polaroid camera were pictures
of Mariner IV and Russian Vostok rockets. Many pictures produced
by Serios are ambiguous, in soft focus, or too vague to
identify. Some contained mistakes which would have been absent
from a picture of an object that had merely been reproduced
via the ‘‘gizmo.’’
At one point, a rumor circulated that Serios had confessed
to fraud, a fact that both Eisenbud and Serios staunchly denied.
His work has fallen into the shadow created by the confession
of Masuki Kiyota to having faked similar effects after he had
passed a number of tests by both Japanese researchers and
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Eisenbud, Jule. ‘‘On Ted Serios’ Alleged ‘Confession.’&43’’
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 69
———. The World of Ted Serios ‘‘Thoughtographic’’ Studies of
an Extraordinary Mind New York William Morrow, 1966.

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