Can a person 'burn' an image from their thoughts onto film using their psychic abilities? Where does this phenomena stem from and is it even possible? Could it be another form of deceptive spirit photography?
What is Thoughtography?
Thoughtography, projected thermography, nengraphy and nensha. They all allude to the same phenomena. It is a person claiming they are able to 'burn' an image from their mind onto film using their psychic ability. Over the years, there have been many psychics who have supposedly demonstrated their ability to project these images onto photographic film. It is thought to be different to psychic photography. Thoughtography is said to project an image from a person's thoughts. Psychic photography is said to be a medium channeling who is able to make a spirit appear on film. Check out my article on 'Fake spirit photography has actually been around for centuries' for more information on this.
While this movement was in the 19th century, it is thought the concept can be traced all the way back to Nikola Tesla.
In 1893, Nikola Tesla came up with a 'thought projector' which he dubbed Gedankenprojektor. It never came to fruition and 40 years later he was quoted saying:
I became convinced that a definite image formed in thought must by reflex action produce a corresponding image on the retina, which might be read by a suitable apparatus. This brought me to my system of television which I announced at the time‚ My idea was to employ an artificial retina receiving an object of the image seen, an optic nerve and another retina at the place of reproduction‚ both being fashioned somewhat like a checkerboard, with the optic nerve being a part of the earth.
The first book to mention psychic photography was called 'The New Photography' in 1896 by Arthur Brunel Chatwood. He described the experiments as "image of objects on the retina of the human eye might so affect it that a photograph could be produced by looking at a sensitive plate." The term Thoughtography was first coined by Tomokichi Fukurai. The Japanese Psychological Association was established in 1927 and during that time, Tomokichi Fukurai, an associate professor at Tokyo Imperial University, became involved with psychical research. During his time at the university, he was involved in a series of parapsychology experiments where he published the results alleging that one of his subjects was capable of telepathically imprinting images on photo plates. He called this 'Nensha'. In 1913, Fukurai published 'Clairvoyance and Thoughtography.' The book was criticized for a lack of scientific approach and his work disparaged by the university and his colleagues. Fukurai eventually resigned in 1913 under pressure.
An alleged "thought photograph" obtained by Tomokichi Fukurai.
It is all a hoax?
This is a phenomena which is extremely easy to fake. As you are using digital film, it is very easy to insert film which has already been exposed. Often the psychics would supply their own film or would spend time alone with the film before performing the 'trick'. Others were said to use slight hand of movements to pull off the photos. Sadly, famous advocates of this phenomena have admitted or been exposed as frauds by professional photographers and the skeptic community. Famous skeptic and magician James Randi has been pivotal in exposing frauds claiming to be capable of this phenomena which led to one performing admitting to his deception in a television interview.
One of the most famous faces of Thoughtography is Ted Serios. He was well known for his claims of being able to produce his thoughts onto Polaroid film. He was studied for a 3 year period by Jule Eisenbud. To produce his photos, he would hold a tube up to the lens of a Polaroid camera which he called a 'gizmo'. He would then point it at his forehead, think of an image and take a photo. He also had to drink alcohol or be drunk to be able to produce this phenomena which is a worrying sign. Eisenbud proclaimed that his abilities were geniune. In an article in the October 1967 issue of the magazine Popular Photography, Charlie Reynolds and David Eisendrath, both amateur magicians and professional photographers, claimed to have exposed Serios as a fraud after spending a weekend with him and Eisenbud. They claimed that they witnessed Serios put some sort of item in the tube. Serios claimed that it was needed to help him concentrate, however they thought it was a form of optical device. James Randi claimed he was able to replicate Serios's trick with a simple handheld device - which he did on live television. Here is a video of Ted Serios demonstrating his claimed abilities.
So what do you think? Do you think a person can replicate their thoughts onto film or is this just another form of deception?
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