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Neural Download #2 “Manhunt:Unabomber”

Download #2 is an addendum, of sorts, to the recent podcast that Eric and I did about the genesis of evil. My son recommended a Netflix 8 part miniseries called “Manhunt:UNABOMBER”. For those unfamiliar with the case, an unknown individual who became known as the “unabomber” began a mail bomb campaign that targeted individuals who represented certain power structures. The term “unabom” is an acronym derived from: UNiversity & Airlines BOMbing (I always wondered what that meant). The reign of terror lasted from 1978-1996 when he was finally captured. The final tally of human destruction was: 3 dead and 23 injured and disfigured.

Ted Kaczynski is(he’s currently serving 8 consecutive life sentences) an immensely troubled and fascinating individual. He functions at a genius level intellectually (169 IQ) but has no ability to master social graces. He was a mathematical savant who entered Harvard at 16 but had no ability to navigate the emotional landscape of college life. While at Harvard, Kaczynski took part in psychological trial, the nature of which I will not divulge, but it’s guaranteed to have Eric foaming at the mouth.

He graduated from Harvard and from the University of Michigan with a doctorate in advanced mathematics. Kaczynski landed a job teaching math at the University of California at Berkeley but was unable to maintain the position due to his social problems. Unable to interface successfully with society, he retreated to a small shed that he built in rural Montana where he lived off of the land with no electricity or running water.

The true strength of this show is the joust between Kaczynski and FBI profiler Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald who pioneered the use of forensic linguistics. Fitz (brilliant in his own right) was able to interpret the language that the Unabomber used in a 35,000 word manifesto titled “Industrial Society and Its Future” (which I happen to agree with philosophically). If you listen to our podcast, we discuss a neuro-system that delivers a chemical called oxytocin into the bloodstream when humans engage in positive social behavior thus encouraging humans to engage in these activities. I believe Kaczynski may have had this system stunted when he was hospitalized as a child for an allergic reaction and spent a great deal of time in isolation thus leading to the development of this particular form of evil. The demented strategy he used to gain recognition for his agenda totally lacked empathy for the people he victimized.

“Manhunt” is well-written and well-acted but most impressively, the director manages to maintain dramatic tension through 8 episodes given the fact that the story’s ending is a foregone conclusion. Check it out! 

Neural Download is Walt Schanbel’s bi-monthy blog, and he’s the cohost of the fastest growing podcast on the topic of the paranormal, ocult, unexlained phenomeon: The Metaphysical Connection. Walt is also an accomplished author and educator who resides in Southern New Hampshire.

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