Medium Ted Serios    USA


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 Ted Serios Medium


The special gift for creating these photographs was discovered in Ted Serios, a Chicago Bellhop who had little formal education. The phenomena began when Serios allowed a friend to hypnotize him just to pass away the time. Serios claimed to be able to describe the locations of buried treasure. The friend then suggested that he concentrate on making photographs of the locations when he pointed a camera at a blank wall and triggered the shutter. They did not find buried treasure, but to their amazement, actual images appeared on the Polaroid prints of things that were not visible in the room.

The phenomena came to the attention of members of the Illinois Society for Psychic Research who eventually persuaded a Denver psychiatrist, Dr. Jule Eisenbud, to observe one of Ted's demonstrations. After a long string of failures, Serios managed to produce a striking success for Eisenbud, who, although he had engaged in previous psychical exploration with the context of psychoanalysis, was unprepared for phenomena of this sort. After a sleepless night, he invited Serios to Denver for further study. Eisenbud spend two years conducting well-controlled studies with Serios. He was quite aware of the history of fraud and gullibility in research of this sort and claims that he took every precaution to guard against it. He book, The World of Ted Serios, published in 1966, contains the results obtained from his examinations.

Livery Stable

The way in which Ted's mind ostensibly shaped the pictures was sometimes quite remarkable. In one session, in front of several witnesses, Ted first tried to reproduce images of the medieval town of Rothenburg. Then the experimenters asked him to try to reproduce an image of the old Opera House in Central City, Colorado. Serios agreed, and then asked the experimenters if they would like a composite of both images. The results are extraordinary. The photograph shows a striking resemblence to the livery stable across from the old Opera House. However, instead of the brick masonry, the image shows a kind of embedded rock characteristic of the buildings in the medieval town.


Livery Stable to the left    and the   thoughtograph on the right

The photograph shown below is an enlargement of a Polaroid "thoughtograph" of the Denver Hilton Hotel. Eisenbud held the camera, which as pointed at Serios' forehead. Ted, at the time, was trying to produce an image of the Chicago Hilton ("I missed, damn it.") Eisenbud claimed that this image could only have been made with a lens different from that of the Polaroid 100, from an angle well up in the air, between the tree tops. This was suggested that the thoughtographs are associated with out-of-body or travelling clairvoyant states.


Eisenbud's book is noted for detailed observation, but even more remarkable is the penetrating study of this anomalous phenomena and the reaction to it of scientists and educators. To Eisenbud, the photographic manifestations seemed to follow a pattern pointing to the active operation of the animistic powers known to ancient people:

As to building blocks for a theoretical structure that might bridge the gulf on other fronts between the mental and physical,...I can't think of a better place to begin than right where Ted is (and hopefully where others like him will be). For in a study of images and imagery of this sort and in phenomenon like dreams, hallucinations, and apparitions, which prove not less remarkable and even more familiar than Ted's image we are confronted by various organized entities with one leg in the world of reality and one leg in that extraordinary world we ordinarily term appearance.
Adequate understanding of the Serios phenomena can only be obtained through detailed study of the experimental reports. During the following years, studies were also conducted by researchers at the Division of Parapsychology of the University of Virginia Medical School. These researchers failed to detect any signs of fraud in their cooperative subject, and they successfully obtained numerous striking photographs. While they were calling for further study of this puzzling phenomena, Serios' abilities began to fade and he has remained less active for the past thirty years. However, as of this writing, in November 2000, reports continue to come in of researchers who are obtaining some photographic evidence with Serios.
Skeptics claim that Ted Serios was definitely exposed by Charlie Reynolds and David Eisendrath, both amateur magicians and professional photographers. They presented their account in a Popular Photography piece (October 1967) based on one weekend with Serios and the psychiatrist Jule Eisenbud, whose book, The World of Ted Serios, had sparked their ire.

However, the November 1967 issue of Popular Photography published Eisenbud's response letter:

I hereby state that if, before any competent jury of scientific investigators, photographers and conjurers, any chosen by them can in any normal way or combination of ways duplicate, under similar conditions, the range of phenomena produced by Ted, I shall (1) abjure all further work with Ted,  buy up and publicly burn all available copies of The World of Ted Serios,  take a full-page ad in Popular Photography in order to be represented photographically wearing a dunce cap, and  spend my spare time for the rest of my life selling door-to-door subscriptions to this amazing magazine. No time limit is stipulated.
An article in Fate, August 1974, revealed that only one magician had responded to this delectable invitation. The Amazing James Randi couldn't resist the bait, but on learning of the conditions he backed out. According to Randi, one of the conditions was that he perform in a state of alcoholic intoxication, as Serios had typically done. As a non-drinker, Randi found this condition unacceptable.







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