Theodore important questions: What could cause a successful

Theodore John Kaczynski, born May 22, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, is an acclaimed mathematician, author, scholar, and domestic terrorist more commonly known as the Unabomber. Kaczinski, a child prodigy, attended Harvard University at the age of 16, where he would become part of a highly controversial experiment in which he was mentally tormented for three years. After earning his PhD in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1967, he acquired a position as an assistant mathematics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, which he abruptly quit after a mere two years to move into a remote cabin in Montana where he had no electricity or running water. He later decided that due to technology, it was impossible to live peacefully within nature and the only solution was to get rid of it all, thus starting his career as the Unabomber. His bombings went on for 17 years, gaining lots of attention from the media and the FBI. After having his “manifesto” published for the public to see, his brother, David Kaczynski, recognized his voice and personality in his writing and reported him to the FBI. He was eventually caught in 1995 and sentenced to life without parole. Kaczynski has been the topic of many debates over the past two decades, particularly because of the grim warnings he offered for mankind in his writings. These debates bring up a lot of important questions: What could cause a successful genius to abandon everything and decide to become self sufficient? Could the Harvard experiment have been the cause of his break from society, and could it be blamed for pushing him towards terrorism? Many wonder if his many writings are truly the work of a genius who knows what the future holds, or the delusioned ramblings of a madman. As a baby, Kaczynski was happy and healthy until he had a severe allergic reaction to a medication. He was hospitalised and put into isolation in order to recover. His mother stated that he did not show any emotions for months after the incident, and that it had a noticeable effect on his personality. From a young age, Kaczynski showed exceptional intellect. While attending Evergreen Park Central School, he took an IQ test and scored 167, labelling him as a genius and allowing him to skip the sixth grade. Kaczynski described this event as pivotal, stating that beforehand he was very social and often took leadership roles, whereas after skipping a grade he was much smaller than his peers and he did not fit in. He was labelled as “different” and was often bullied by other children. Many people around the neighbourhood recognized Kaczynski’s intelligence, with one neighbour stating she had “never known anybody with a brain like Ted’s”. Such high intelligence rendered him a loner, with very few friends, and not playing with other children. He also experienced anxiety when being pressured into social situations and often became unresponsive when facing them. Being extremely concerned about her son’s social development, Kaczynski’s mother had nearly entered him in a study for autistic children. In high school, he excelled academically and skipped yet another grade. Once again he was considered an outsider by his peers. Even his close friends considered him to be shy and quiet. During these years Kaczinski became extremely invested in mathematics. He was placed in advanced math classes where he would spend hours solving problems. He graduated at the age of 15 and was encouraged to apply to Harvard University. One classmate stated, “They packed him up and sent him to Harvard before he was ready … He didn’t even have a driver’s license”. Despite being very emotionally unprepared, Kaczynski headed to Harvard at the mere age of 16. Kaczynski studied mathematics at Harvard where once again, his peers described him as an antisocial genius. During this time he was exposed to many different belief systems and ideas. He became fixated on the evils of society and how technology has contributed heavily to them. To quote Alston Chase, a Harvard graduate and pen-pal of Kaczynski,It was at Harvard that Kaczynski first encountered the ideas about the evils of society that would provide a justification for and a focus to an anger he had felt since junior high school. It was at Harvard that he began to develop these ideas into his anti-technology ideology of revolution. It was at Harvard that Kaczynski began to have fantasies of revenge, began to dream of escaping into wilderness. And it was at Harvard, as far as can be determined, that he fixed on dualistic ideas of good and evil, and on a mathematical cognitive style that led him to think he could find absolute truth through the application of his own reason. During his time at Harvard, Kaczynski was a subject in a psychological experiment led by Henry A. Murray in which he was mentally tormented. This highly controversial experiment would in no way pass an ethics test today, and is widely considered to be a major factor in Kaczynski’s downward spiral towards becoming the Unabomber. In the experiment, the test subjects (who were referred to by a set of numbers) were instructed to write and submit essays stating their personal beliefs, philosophies and aspirations. They were told that they would be debating with a fellow student, but instead their essays were turned over to an unnamed attorney. This attorney would use the information gathered from the essays to put together personal attacks designed to belittle the subjects and the beliefs they hold dear. Murray himself described the attacks as “vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive”. Electrodes would monitor their reactions, and instances of extreme anger were recorder and repeatedly played back to them. The purpose of this experiment was to study how people react under stress. Kaczynski was subjected to verbal abuse once every week for a span of three years. With his newfound anti-technological belief system and hatred for society’s evil nature occurring at the same time as the experiment, it is highly likely that the verbal abuse affected his mental health significantly and sparked a thirst for vengeance and revolution. According to Sally Johnson, a forensic psychiatrist who met with Kaczynski following his imprisonment, he told her that it was during this time that he started to get the desire to break away from society. After getting his mathematics BA from Harvard, Kaczynski attended the University of Manitoba, where he impressed all of his professors with his drive and intellect. He won the Sumner B. Myers Prize for best math dissertation of the year. His dissertation, Boundary Functions, was labelled “the best I have ever directed” by his doctoral advisor, Allen Shields. He got both his M.A and P.h.D. degrees at the university. Soon after, he got a teaching position at the University of California, Berkeley, which he held for two years. Despite being a mathematical genius, Kaczynski was extremely uncomfortable and rather unsuccessful with his new job teaching math. He refused to answer any questions, avoided his students, taught straight out of the assigned textbooks, and was widely disliked. After two years, he suddenly resigned without any explanation and moved into a Cabin he built in Montana. The cabin had no electricity and no running water. He would ride his bike to the inner city and perform odd jobs in order to earn small amounts of money. He taught himself various survival skills and grew much of his own food. His goal was to become completely self sufficient. In 1975, a real estate development company started destroying the wildland around his cabin for industrial projects. Looking back at his favourite spot, Kaczynski stated,It’s kind of rolling country, not flat, and when you get to the edge of it you find these ravines that cut very steeply in to cliff-like drop-offs and there was even a waterfall there. It was about a two days’ hike from my cabin. That was the best spot until the summer of 1983. That summer there were too many people around my cabin so I decided I needed some peace. I went back to the plateau and when I got there I found they had put a road right through the middle of it … You just can’t imagine how upset I was. It was from that point on I decided that, rather than trying to acquire further wilderness skills, I would work on getting back at the system. Revenge.This made him lose faith in humanity ever reforming due to the “human tendency to take the path of least resistance”. He began reading about sociology and political philosophy and concluded that the only way to bring down technology and industrialization was through violent collapse. On May 25, 1978, Kaczynski mailed a homemade bomb to Buckley Crist, a materials engineering professor at Northwestern University. Crist was suspicious of the package and called the campus police. Upon opening the package, there was a small explosion with injured an officer’s left hand. This was the first of a string of 16 bombings that went on for nearly 20 years. The FBI named his file UNABOM, which stood for UNiversity and Airport BOMber as these were popular targets. All of the bombs were sent to people who had some sort of link with technology or development, with most bombs containing something that signified nature, such as a twig. Subjects included an air force captain, a computer store owner, a computer science professor, and a Burson-Marsteller executive. There was a total of 23 injuries and three deaths as a result of the bombs. In 1995, Kaczynski sent out a 35,000 word “manifesto” titled Industrial Society and Its Future which explained his ideology and reasoning behind why technology is the worst thing to happen to mankind. He sent this essay to various news sources including the New York Times, saying that if they did not publish it he would blow up an aeroplane. It was published in September of that year, officially putting and end to his bombings. David Kaczynski, Ted Kaczynski’s brother, was convinced by his wife that Ted was the Unabomber after reading his manifesto and recognizing the similar ideology and speech patterns. David took this information to the FBI, who then went to Ted’s cabin in which they found bomb material and thousands of pages of writing, including details of each bombing. Ted Kaczynski was arrested on April 3, 1996 and sentenced to six life sentences with no chance of parole.   The chilling manifesto started off with the sentence “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race”. It argues that as technology advances and makes society more powerful, the less freedom people will have. This is because “the system has to regulate human behavior closely in order to function”, meaning in order for the system to stay intact, it must closely monitor thoughts, ideas and actions to avoid any threats to its stability. He states the complete control over human behaviour has not yet been achieved. Nevertheless, if it were one day successful, reform of the system would be impossible as “changes large enough to make a lasting difference in favor of freedom would not be initiated because it would be realized that they would gravely disrupt the system”. Kaczynski states that technology has caused society to endure psychological suffering and made life “unfulfilling” through pursuits of what he called “surrogate activities”. These are activities in which people strive towards artificial goals, and includes media obsession and entertainment consumption, following sports teams, and even scientific work. The dangers, he says, are when technology will overcome nature, and humans will be forced to adapt to the new system rather than the other way around. An example of this would be extensive genetic engineering of humans. As technology continues to destroy nature, it becomes stronger and stronger, more so than politics will ever be. This means that any attempt tame the system using politics or technology will only strengthen it. Thus, the only solution is to completely destroy it, without any possibility of reforming. Kaczynski warns that if society has any hope to re-establish itself without technology, leftists and liberals should be avoided at all cost. He describes leftists as “mainly socialists, collectivists, ‘politically correct’ types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like”. He argues that they are primarily driven by “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization”, a term used by psychologists “to designate the process by which children are trained to think and act as society demands”. He maintains that leftism is “one of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world” and that “leftism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature, with human freedom and with the elimination of modern technology”. Conservatives were not left unscathed however, as he described them as “fools” who “whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values”. The manifesto was widely considered by the public to be a profound work of genius, written by a revolutionary of modern times. Many people, including intellectuals such as university professors came out in support of looking further into Kaczynski’s foresight of society’s future involving technology. Industrial Society and Its Future is still heavily debated today, but most people agree that the predictions set out in the writing have, for the most part, come true. This brings up the question of what to do about the looming danger of technology, and whether complete destruction of the system is a reality that may one day occur. Following his arrest, Kaczynski was accused of three counts of murder and 10 counts of illegally transporting, mailing, and using bombs. Facing death row, his lawyers, Michael Donahoe and Judy Clarke, entered an insanity plea without his consent. They used the manifesto as an argument that Kaczynski suffered from severe paranoia and that the bombings were a result of mental illness. The prosecution did not agree, and their psychiatrists cited the manifesto as undeniable proof that he is sane. Being found sane would mean that he would likely have to face the death penalty, so his lawyers, along with his family, attempted to paint a picture of mental illness in the media. After the court denied his request to get a new lawyer, he attempted suicide by hanging but was unsuccessful. He was visited by many psychologists and psychiatrists, several of which diagnosed him with Paranoid Schizophrenia or some form of personality disorder, including Schizoid Personality Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Nonetheless, there were psychologists whom Kaczynski claimed had held that these diagnoses were “ridiculous” and used politically. Kaczynski repeatedly denied being mentally ill, which many people considered to be a sign that he was, in fact, suffering from mental illness but refused to accept it. Despite his diagnoses as a Paranoid Schizophrenic, Kaczynski was found competent to stand trial on January 21, 1998. By pleading guilty to all counts, he was able to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. He later attempted to withdraw this plea by claiming that it was involuntary, however the request was denied. Kaczynski currently resides at the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility. To this day, Kaczynski’s sanity is still questioned. While his actions reflect the mindset of someone who suffers from mental illness, his intelligence and reasoning behind those actions could just as well suggests that he is sane a genius who simply took his beliefs too far. Whether or not Kaczynski is mentally ill is extremely important when determining whether his words should be taken as a serious warning for society. While it is true that he has been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia which suggests he suffers from paranoid delusions, the accuracy of his manifesto cannot be ignored, and may even prove him right. In an age where technology is present nearly every second and people appear to fall into the mind-numbingness that is internet addiction; where devices are replacing books, physical activity and real-life communication, one has to wonder, has technology come too far? Has society reached a point where they no longer control technology, but technology controls them? And if so, was Ted Kaczynski right when he said the only solution is to destroy the whole system and start over? The advancement of technology occurs so quickly that people are not given time to process the effects it has on the world. To be born into a world run by technology means that one is used to everything changing within an extremely short time span, and the only way to cope is to rapidly and often mindlessly adapt to the new way of life. The questions raised by Industrial Society and Its Future are becoming increasingly relevant by the second, and society is quickly realizing it. Even well established geniuses like Stephen Hawking have offered sinister warnings about the dangers of technology and artificial intelligence. After considering all of this information, one irrefutable conclusion can be made: society needs to address these issues, and they need to address it fast. Otherwise, before they know it they will end up as slaves to technology and there will be no going back.