The Cultural Coldwars
Episode 1

The Human Experiment - When Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski Takes the Stand

Elizabeth Puckett published on

Ted Kaczynski is a mathematician best known for his accomplishments as a.... mathematics prodigy,  At the age of 16, Kaczynski entered Harvard University on a scholarship. There, he studied mathematics and participated in a blind study, understanding the human ability to withstand consistant reinforcement of percieving one's own intellectual's (root of all evil) inferiority complex.  This psychological experiment conducted by professor Henry A. Murray, is thought to have been a factor in Kaczynski's later activities, giving the country and the world its first glimpse of the infamous Unabomber. 

Ted Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest child of a Polish American couple, Wanda and Theodore. As a baby, Kaczynski had an allergic reaction to some medication and spent time in isolation while recovering. Some reports indicate that he had a noticeable change in personality after being hospitalized. The arrival of his younger brother, David, also allegedly had a strong effect on him.

Kaczynski's parents pushed him hard to achieve academic success. A bright child, Kaczynski skipped two grades during his early education. However, he was smaller than the other kids and regarded as "different" because of his intelligence. Still Kaczynski was active in school groups, including the German-language and chess clubs. In 1958, 

After graduating Harvard in 1962, Kaczynski continued his studies at the University of Michigan. While there, he taught classes and worked on his dissertation, which was widely praised. Kaczynski earned his doctoral degree from the university in 1967, then moved west to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Kaczynski struggled at Berkeley, having a hard time delivering his lectures and often avoiding contact with his students. He resigned his assistant professorship in 1969, and by the early 1970s had given up his old life and settled in Montana. He built himself a small cabin near Lincoln, where he lived in near-total isolation, hunting rabbits, growing vegetables, and spending much of his time reading. While living this remote, survivalist lifestyle, over the years, Kaczynski developed his own anti-government and anti-technology philosophy.

In 1978, Kaczynski moved back to Chicago to work in the same factory as his brother. While there, he had a relationship with a female supervisor, but it eventually turned sour. In retaliation, Kaczynski wrote crude limericks about her, which got him fired. His brother David, a supervisor himself, was the one that actually had to break the news to Ted.

His first fatality occurred in December 1985, when a computer store owner was killed by a device placed outside his shop. Over the next decade, Kaczynski would send numerous other bombs, resulting in two more deaths and many more injuries.

The big break in the case finally came in 1995, when Kaczynski sent out a 35,000-word essay on the problems of modern society. He even threatened media outlets, such as The New York Times, to publish his so-called "Unabomber Manifesto," telling them he would blow up a plane if they failed to do so. 

The manifesto was eventually published in September 1995, and shortly thereafter was read by Kaczynski's sister-in-law, Linda Patrik, who thought it could have been written by Ted and encouraged her husband to read it. Although he and Ted had become estranged over the years, David recognized the writing style and some of the ideas expressed as his brother's. After much deliberation and hiring a private detective to confirm his suspicions, in early 1996 David shared his suspicions with the FBI.   David developed a respectful relationship with the primary Task Force behavioral analyst, Special Agent Kathleen M. Puckett, with whom he met many times in Washington, D.C., Texas, Chicago, and Schenectady, New York, over the nearly two months before the federal search warrant was served on Kaczynski's cabin.


On April 3, 1996, federal investigators arrested Ted Kaczynski at his cabin in Montana. News outlets carried images of the bearded and disheveled Kaczynski, giving the country and the world its first glimpse of the infamous Unabomber.


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