Ted Serios

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A manually-altered Polaroid of the non-thoughtographic type
It's fun to pretend
Icon ghost.svg
Fails from the crypt

Theodore "Ted" Serios (1918–2006) was a Chicago bellhop who, during the 1970s, achieved fleeting fame for his alleged ability to produce images on Polaroid film by using psychic powers alone.[1]


An unemployed bellhop, Serios not only convinced Denver-based psychiatrist Jule Eisenbud that he could imprint images on Polaroid film with his mind but that it worked best when he was totally drunk. Serios used what he called a “gizmo”, a paper tube placed against the camera lens that he claimed helped him focus his mental energy. Eisenbud expended three years (and who knows how many bottles of whiskey) testing Serios and concluded that Serios was undoubtedly capable of "thoughtography" because he couldn't find any evidence of trickery or fraudulence.[2]

Trickery and fraudulence[edit]

Serios agreed to a public challenge, but when magicians asked to examine the paper tube immediately after a photo exposure was made, "Serios backed away, putting his hand in his pocket." Investigators guessed that Serios' "gizmo" concealed a second, much smaller tube, most likely a common jeweler's loupe or transparency magnifier. With a tiny magnifying lens at one end and a section of a 35mm transparency affixed with tape at the other, the device could effectively project the transparency image into the lens of the Polaroid camera. Photos produced by investigators using this method were nearly identical to Serios' "thoughtographs."[3] After being summarily debunked and exposed by various photo experts and James Randi (when Randi replicated Serios' tricks on a live TV show, Eisenbud was reportedly "flabbergasted"), Serios faded into obscurity.[4]

External links[edit]