016 | The Unabomber

This episode focuses on "Sketchy People", and who better than Ted Kaczynski to get us started.? By missing this show, you forfeit your smart card.


Child prodigy born in a bit of strange isolation. He had hives, so the doctors thought it was a good idea to isolate him during the first few months of his life. This was standard procedure back then, and it would appear that the baby was very distant and unresponsive to affection at first. 

During his childhood, he would “shut down” for a while, and then go into fits of rage. 
He composed music, preferred a life of the mind, and loved Bach, Vivaldi. [1]

Graduated high school at 15. Was accepted and graduated from Harvard at 16, although people said that he would never speak to anyone, and would often isolate himself in a room that reeked of sour milk. He also did part of his graduate studies at U of Michigan, and published a number of academic papers there.

Graduated University at 20. He wrote a doctoral thesis that was so good, it was awarded a prize, and he was offered a job that would fast track him to a position at Berkeley University, making him the youngest to ever be offered the position. Basically, he was in. 

“Kaczynski earned his PhD with his thesis entitled "Boundary Functions"[21] by solving a problem so difficult that even one of his professors could not solve it.”

He’s a poor teacher though, and his undergraduates do terribly. 

Then, with no explanation, he quits in 1969, at age 26, and moves back in with his parents. He takes a bunch of odd jobs, including one his brother gave him until he had to fire him for harassing a woman who didn’t want to have a relationship with him because they had nothing in common. 

This is when he turns slowly into evil McGiver, and learns how to be self sufficient and make primitive bombs. He started to study more about sociology, politics, and the work of french anarchists in particular. 1969-1978 


Moved to Montana in a move so sudden, people though he was going to go kill himself. Buys the plot of land with money he’s saves and half from family. He builds a small shack with no running water, and behind campaign of bombings for 17 years. Mostly as his way of trying to enforce Neo-Ludditism

A Short note on Luddite: named after Ned Ludd, who supposedly smashed a piece of tech): the were weavers who opposed the spinning loom machine, the first real major push against Industrialization. Although not against technology, they were against it’s use in reducing the power of labor *cough, robots))

Ted viewed Industrialization as a fundamental harm to the environment. He took particular offense at engineers and the wood industry in particular.

First was University of Chicago (1978) found in parking lot, addressed to  “materials engineering”
His bombs used recycled materials

Second bombing was on American Airlines flight 444. Bomb didn’t explode, but started smoking instead, forcing the pilot to land. Would have obliterated the plane. 
FBI now had federate crime, so they nicked-named him (University and Airlines Bomber), UniBomber for short. Initial profile by famous profiler John Douglas (who inspired the character Jack Crawford from silence of the lambs) correctly identified his with ties to academia, but crudity of bomb misdirected them to blue collar worker profile instead
Also left fake clues behind, like “FC” for Freedom Club, a made up group. He also left notes behind with fake names. 

Offer of 1 million for information leading to capture. 

(see wiki)[3]


In 1995, he mails several letters to the FBI and others that he wants his manifesto to be published, and promises an end to the bombing campaign. 

He criticizes Leftists, says that people need o express and experience power in some form (through artificial goals) and says that the only way to really create reform is to unleash global capitalism until the whole of humanity is brought to a critical breaking point. 

After manifesto FBI received 1k a day for months for the 1 million reward, but i wasn’t until Ted’s brother David found some old letters that the connection was made. He asked to remain anonymous, but a leak in the FBI to CBS scooped him.  


At first, there was doubts that it was him, but after they searched his house, they found the original manifesto, and the makings of a new bomb (leading many to believe he was going to break his promise). He avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty, and is serving 8 life sentences. 

He is in correspondance with over 400 people, and actively potitions to get the intellectual property of his writings back, but the money has gone to the victims. 

In 2012, he submitted his information to the Alumni association at Harvard. He listed his profession as “Prisoner”

[1] http://www.cnn.com/fyi/school.tools/profiles/kaczynski/index.story.html
[2] http://editions-hache.com/essais/pdf/kaczynski2.pdf
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kaczynski#List_of_bombings