Serios, Ted (1918-)

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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 Eisenbud.


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 (1975).

. The World of Ted Serios: "Thoughtographic" Studies of an Extraordinary Mind New York: William Morrow, 1966.