Ted Serios was a Chicago-area bellhop who claimed he could transfer his thoughts directly from his mind onto film. He called the process "thoughtography." The images were usually blurry but had recognizable objects in them such as buildings, cars, or even aircraft.
The process of creating a thoughtograph was highly theatrical. Serios would usually get extremely drunk. He would shout and wail and screw up his features. Then he would hold a small tube, which he called a "gismo," up against the lens of a polariod camera. When he felt a thoughtograph was ready to emerge, he would shout at the person behind the camera to trigger the shutter. He never handled the camera himself.
Serios attracted the attention of a psychiatrist named Jule Eisenbud who studied him extensively and became a firm believer in his powers. In 1967 Eisenbud published a book called The World of Ted Serios
which brought Serios to a much wider audience. A 1967 article in Life
also gained him enormous notoriety.
Serios produced hundreds of thoughtographs. Two of them are reproduced here. The top photo, taken in 1965, shows an unidentified building. The bottom one, taken in 1965, shows an unidentified street scene. Eisenbud claimed that Serios' eye could be seen mysteriously superimposed on top of the car.
Skeptics have dismissed Serios' powers as a fraud. James Randi argued that Serios could have created the thoughtographs by concealing a small lens with a photographic transparency attached to it inside the gismo. Randi was able to produce similar photographs in this way.
After 1967, Serios drifted into obscurity. He reportedly died in 2006.
Links and References
• Eisenbud, J. (1967). The World of Ted Serios
. William Morrow. New York.
• Randi, J. (1980). Flim-Flam! The Truth About Unicorns, Parapsychology and Other Delusions. Lippincott & Crowell: 222-228.
• Reynolds, C. and Eisendrath, D.B. (Oct 1967). "An amazing weekend with the amazing Ted Serios." Popular Photography: 81-87, 131-141, 158.
• Root, N.. (2002). Mind power or hoax?
• Welch, P. (Sep 22, 1967). "A Man Who Thinks Pictures." Life