American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

The Unabomber | Atomic Pearl | 1

The Unabomber | Atomic Pearl | 1

Tue, 01 Dec 2020 10:00

Ted Kaczynski faces a painful rejection in high school. Then he endures an abusive psychology experiment at Harvard. Kaczynski may be an academic prodigy, but he feels lonely and out of place. His solution? He's going to get revenge on modern society.

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It's the morning of July 2nd, 1982. Patrick Webb hurries through campus at the University of California, Berkeley. His eyes dart left and right. He spots police cars, a crowd of students. There's yellow crime scene taped stretched across the computer science building. In everywhere, onlookers point and murmur. They all seem to be saying the same thing that there was an explosion, a big one, might have been a bomb. That's why Patrick Webb is here. Webb is a bomb expert who works for the FBI. He's 37 years old and normally he hasn't easy smile. But today his expression is grim. Because he knows the onlookers are right. This could have been a deliberate act of violence, so he needs to move fast. Webb needs to figure out what exactly happened and if there's any evidence of foul play, he and the FBI need to start looking for suspects before it's too late. Webb reaches the computer science building and flashes his ID. The officers move aside and Webb ducks beneath the yellow tape. As he approaches the building, he's met by another FBI agent. The two enter together and walk up a stairwell. They exit on the fourth floor and head for the faculty break room. There, Webb pulses and he stares in horror at the sight in front of him. Chairs lie tipped over, scorched, debris litters the floor. There's a faint smell of coffee in there but it's overpowered by the reek of gasoline. Webb squats down and examines the floor. There are shards of glass and a metal pipe. He spots fragments of a battery and scraps of parcel paper. There's no question that this was a bomb. Looking at the scraps, this could have been a plastic can filled with gasoline. It would have been wrapped in parcel paper as a disguise. And for the detonator, a pipe bomb with batteries. When someone triggered it, the device would have exploded like one giant Molotov cocktail. Webb rises and turns to the agent who let him in. So we had a victim? Yeah, a professor. He's got severe burns and might lose some fingers. Yeah, was there a note? Anything? The agent hands Webb a ziplock bag. Inside is a burnt piece of paper. It's a type written note. This is it? No ransom? No demands? Just... Woo, it works? I told you it would? No, nothing else. Webb drifts his teeth and gazes across the destruction. He's never heard of a bombing case without demands. Most bombers ask for money, the return of a political prisoner, anything. Anything. This is bizarre, and not nearly enough to give him a read on the bomber's motivation. As Webb surveys the room, the other agent speaks up. You know, this could be unibomb. Unibomb? I heard about him at a conference last year. Remember that United Airlines bomb back in 79? Almost took down a plane in Chicago. That was unibomb. He also mailed a bomb to an executive at United Air. What do airlines have to do with a break room at UC Berkeley? Well, that's where unibomb comes from, the name unibomb. We believe the same guy is also hitting university professors. He has sent bombs in Northwestern, Utah, Vanderbilt, so unibomb, university, and airline bomber. Webb taps his foot, stares at the agent. That's a weird connection. You think he did this? I talked to some lab techs at the conference and this bomb here? Well, this looks exactly like what they described. Webb exhales. If they're dealing with a serial bomber, then things just got a hell of a lot more complicated. But there's still something he can't wrap his head around. He turns back to the other agent. Well, tell me something. He sets the explosive in front of a coffee machine. Yeah, right. I didn't plan to use so anyone could have been the victim. Yep. Yep. He wasn't going after any single person. So no target. Just a bomb in the break room. I don't know what the mode of could be. Webb once again glances around the destroyed room. Then it hits him. Terror. He was going for terror. Webb squats back down and gazes at the debris on the floor again. He'll probably be here all night and these may be the only clues he has to work with. He'll be tedious work. But if this is the work of a serial bomber, then Webb knows one thing for sure. There will be more explosions and more victims. So now Webb has just a single goal to track the bomber down before anyone else gets hurt. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well we agree on that too. Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, sitting was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Officially one hour until your favorite show premieres time to get some snacks delivered through Instacart. Okay, let's get some popcorn, seltzer, chocolate covered almonds and wait, did they release the whole season? Better cart some ice cream for the two part finale. When your day should be ending, but a new season is starting, the world is your cart. Visit or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time minimum order $10 additional terms apply. I'm Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. Political violence is nothing new to America. These extreme measures have been the reaction to a wide variety of issues from slavery to war to changes in the nation's economy. Those who commit political violence often believe that their actions are the only way to create change. But others only seek to create terror. Whatever the intent, political violence has caused countless lives and loomed as a specter during trouble times. From the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, America lived through one of these troubled episodes. A man named Theodore Kaczynski, mailed or planted 16 bombs around the country. These devices injured 23 people and killed three and left a nation on edge. Known to the FBI as the Unibomber, Kaczynski railed against technology. He believed that industrial life had harmful effects on the human spirit and he believed that technology was hurting the planet. He sought to change the world with his bombs. The man hunt from the Unibomber began in 1979. Over the course of nearly two decades, it would grow into the longest and most expensive case in FBI history. But despite what he become, Ted Kaczynski wasn't born evil. Still, his experiences in childhood and at college would leave him alienated and angry. And he grew determined to take revenge on everything he despised. This is Episode 1. Atomic Pearl. It's the spring of 1957. Ted Kaczynski stands in the hallway of his high school, watching students dream past. One after the other, they walk by Kaczynski, gossiping, laughing. Kaczynski stares at them in his arms tremble. It seems like all the other students at Evergreen Park High School have friends. They all seem like they fit into a group. But not Kaczynski. No one seems to notice him. Not today, not ever. Kaczynski runs a hand through his hair and looks around. At least a day, though, no one's picking on him. That's a small improvement. Kaczynski leans back against Salocka and Waits. He knows he has to be one of the most unpopular high schoolers in all of Illinois. Probably doesn't help that he skipped two grades. He's already younger than everyone else, and on top of that, he's small for a 14 year old. And it also doesn't help that most people think he's weird and different. It's true he likes to think logically, to argue. But every time he gets into these conversations, people seem to clam up and turn away. All together, high school has been a miserable experience. The only exceptions are science class and band. But that's not enough, and Kaczynski has made a decision. He's going to change things. He's tired of being a loner and being ignored by everyone. He wants to somehow feel like he belongs. And there's one person in particular he wants to get to know. Her name is Joanne, which is beautiful. Today, Kaczynski is going to make a move, and he's going to impress her with his greatest strength, his mind. Kaczynski reaches into his pocket and grabs hold of what feels like a small tube of paper. It's a firecriner called an atomic pearl, and he made it himself. At home last night, he carefully twisted a little piece of paper into the shape of a barbell. On one end, he placed a monium on the other end, iodine. When you untwist the paper, the crystals mix, and then they explode. Anyone who sees the invention will be wildly impressed, and there's one person who wants to impress most. That's why he's going to give the firecracker to Joanne. Kaczynski sees Joanne approach her locker. Her brown curls frame a heart shaped face. Kaczynski walks up and she looks at him with a weak smile. Then he reaches into his pocket and hands her the firecracker. Joanne squins it the gift. Ask why she should open it. But Kaczynski says she just needs to trust him. Joanne is reluctant, but finally, she untwist the paper. There's a sudden pop, and the firecracker explodes, sending a whisper purple smoke into the air. Joanne shrieks and jumps back, nearby students stop and stare. Joanne's eyes are wide open and shocked, and for a moment Kaczynski feels his knees go weak. Suddenly, this seems like it was a terrible idea. What was he thinking? Joanne is scared, and now it feels like the whole school is watching him, judging. But then Joanne starts laughing, and Kaczynski feels the blood returned to his face. He grins back. Pretty neat, huh? Joanne nods, but then she warned him to be careful. This could get him in trouble. Ted smiles and shakes his head. He says there's no way that'll happen. He's too smart to get caught. The two stand in silence, and then Kaczynski begins to feel lightheaded, because he knows this is his moment to make a move. He's not scared anymore. He has to take action. So Kaczynski blurt out an invitation. He asks Joanne if she wants to see a movie this weekend. She stiffens, and stammer's that she's busy this weekend. But Kaczynski isn't ready to give up, so he asks about next weekend. Joanne inches away, clutching her binder. She apologizes and says she has tennis lessons next weekend, and she should really get to class now. Kaczynski is about to ask if she's actually taking tennis lessons all weekend. But before he can get the words out, Joanne is gone. Now alone in the hallway, Kaczynski slumps against a locker. He thought the atomic pearl was his best hope. He feels deflated, ready to give up. But he also knows he can't go on like this. He's a loner, without any friends, or prospects for a girlfriend. He has to do something, something else. Soon after Joanne walks away, Kaczynski hears the bell and takes off her class. But then he gets the feeling that he's not alone. Out of the corner of his eye, he spots a student from his chemistry class. A boy, six feet tall, with facial hair already. He's beefy and wears a letterman's jacket. As the student approaches Ted cringes instinctively, he knows that something bad is about to happen. He hurries up, trying to get away. But the student hurries after him and grabs Kaczynski by the shoulder. Kaczynski goes limp as the boy steps in front of him. But then something completely unexpected happens. The big student shoots Kaczynski a big smile. And he says that Kaczynski is pretty smart. He saw that little bomb. He wants to know how to make something like that. Kaczynski looks at the ground and asks if the boy is serious. The boy says he is. And so with his eyes still on the floor, Kaczynski starts to explain that it's not a bomb, it's just a firecracker. And there's a difference between the two. Kaczynski begins to explain, but the big student interrupts him. He says it doesn't matter. What does matter is that he's got a proposition. If Kaczynski can give him the recipe to make a bomb, he'll put in a good word with some girls. He looks Kaczynski in the eye and asks, is it a deal? Kaczynski swallows. He wants a girlfriend more than anything in the world. So he looks up nods and then explains the recipe for a bomb. The student punches him in the arm and runs off, saying he's going to tell everyone that Kaczynski is cool. Kaczynski stands there, suddenly feeling a glow like some religious halo, because he knows that this is a start of a new day. A year later, a Pontiac pulls into the parking lot at Evergreen Park High. It spotters as it comes to a stop. Tark Kaczynski steps out of the car and looks up at the school building. He shakes his head, feeling annoyed. This building looks fine and there's no sign of damage from the event last year when some jock blew out the windows during chemistry class. The boy blamed it all on Tark's son, Ted, remembering all those accusations and all of those school meetings, Tark still gets angry. But he's in a better mood today as he's back on campus for a different reason. Ted's band teacher, Mr. Oberto, has invited him to a meeting. Tark is certain that the teacher wants to offer some well earned congratulations. Ted is only 15 years old, but he was just admitted to Harvard, the most prestigious college in the country. It's true that Ted has no real friends. Tark has tried to whip him into shape and called him sick and emotionally disturbed. He knew this hurt Ted, but the boy needed to hear it in order to shape up. Still, despite his flaws, there's no question that Ted is a genius. As Tark steps into the ban room, a few students are warming up, and then he notices Mr. Oberto, who approaches with a generous smile. Mr. Kaczynski, hello, please, grab a seat. The two pull up a pair of plastic chairs, and Tark gays us across the classroom. How's the band this year? Ted says you're his favorite teacher. Well, that's very flattering. He's a special kid. A specials and understatement. I'm guessing you heard. He got into Harvard. Oberto pauses, suddenly looking wary. Yes, that's actually why I asked you in today. I don't know exactly how to say this, but have you considered that maybe Harvard isn't right for Ted? You're kidding me. The boy's got an IQ of 167. Yeah, Ted is clearly brilliant, but emotionally, well, he's just not as mature as other seniors. And I don't think it helped to skip him too great. I mean, you know, take the bomb last year. That wasn't Ted's fault. All he did was share some basic science. Regardless, it shows poor judgment. Plus, Harvard's a different social sphere. Students there come from a certain class. Tark feels his face grow hot. Just because I make a living making sausages. That means my son isn't good enough for Harvard. I see. I see. You know where Ted gets his IQ from? From me. Well, I don't doubt that, Mr. Kitsonsky, but there's no litus in that Harvard that has nothing to do with intelligence. And Harvard's just a fresher cook for anyone, let alone someone so young. Have you considered Oberlin College? I suggest it because it's got an excellent music program. Tark stares at the music teacher. He can't believe this man thinks he can just untrue on their lives. Mr. Kitsonsky, I'm going to be blunt. I know your product is. Damn right, I am. But your pride will doom him. Harvard is not in his best interest. Tark bolts up. He can't take it anymore. You know what's not in his best interest? Having to listen to idiots like you. For Oberto can protest, Tark throws open the door and stalks out. He took off work today. And for what? To have his judgment questioned? Evergreen Park, Tark thinks, a dead end school. He should have expected this. Tark gets into his car and slams it in gear. As he pulls out of the parking lot, he makes a promise to himself. His boy is going to Harvard. That's final. Later that year, in the summer of 1958, Ted Kitsonsky stands on his front lawn, waiting impatiently. He desperately wants to get in the car and finally head off to Harvard. But first he has to deal with his parents. His mother is making a huge fuss. She's trying to get a photograph of what she keeps calling Teddy's big day. Ted scowls as she and his father fidget with the camera. Ted is of course excited about Harvard. For the first time in his life, you'll be able to meet people just like him, smart, curious about the world. He'll be a different universe than Evergreen Park Illinois. Maybe he'll even meet a girl. He also can't wait to get away from his parents. His mother, Wanda, has always telling him what to do. Join a club, try and make friends this way or that way. Even today, she's trying to control everyone. She made him dress up in a sports jacket just for the photo. And she did the same for Ted's little brother, David. The boy is barely nine and here on the front lawn he looks miserable in an oversized jacket. Ted watches his mother struggle to tame David's cowlick. But he can't stand it anymore. He barks at her to take the picture. Finally, the family lines up. There's a click and the photo's done. Ted excails. He's ready to leave. But first Wanda pulls him aside and says she wants to talk for just a minute. Ted groans. He can hear it in her tone. He's about to get another pep talk. And sure enough, Wanda says she knows he had a rough time in high school, especially socially. But Harvard will be better. Ted mutters to himself and starts to walk away. But his mother grabs his sleeve, surprisingly hard. And she looks right into his eyes. Says that she's proud of him. And she hugs him. Ted hates this. He doesn't understand why people are always touching. So he just stands there stiffly. Finally, Wanda pulls away and says, I love you, Teddy. Ted rolls his eyes. Says he's in college now. It's Theodore. Not Teddy. His mother looks hurt, but she repeats the message. I love you, Theodore. And grudgingly, he says that he also loves her. The front door of the house swings open and Ted's father, Turk, comes bounding down the steps. He says they're going to be late. Ted breaks free from his mom and tosses the suitcase in the back of the car. Before she can hug him again, he jumps in the passenger seat and locks the door. Ted sees his brother, David, standing in the doorway. Ted gives a quick wave and then turns away as his father starts the car. Soon, their little brick house disappears into the distance. Ted feels himself relaxed for the first time in months, maybe years. Finally, he's leaving Evergreen Park, a town full of small headed people, people who are never smart enough to understand him. That's why he never fit in, why he never made friends. But Harvard, Harvard will be different. Ted smiles. He knows the worst days are behind him. And he can't wait for his next chapter to begin. Peloton isn't just about bikes and treadmills. It's a team of instructors ready to motivate you 24, 7. With Peloton, there are literally thousands of classes, ranging from strength training and yoga to running and boxing, which means Peloton is the perfect nonjudgmental space to experiment with new types of movement at a level in pace that feel good for you. 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Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game? We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen and add free by joining Wondery Plus in the Wondery app. It's October 1958 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ted Gazzinski steps out of his dorm in a hurry and begins making his way across the quad. He looks down and notices that Pance he's wearing her stained. His stomach crumbles and he realizes that all he's eaten today is half a sandwich and some milk that may have been spoiled. Still right now, Gazzinski has all he needs, his trombone and his sheet music. He's on his way to band practice, but he needs to hurry otherwise he'll be late. As he races through the quad, Gazzinski can't help but feel a dull frustration coursing through him. Because even though it's hard to admit, Harvard's been a tough adjustment. Back home he never had to work for his straight A grades, but at Harvard he's barely pulling seas. The social scene is even worse. Everyone's dad is some rich banker or lawyer or even a senator, and all his classmates want to do is sneak liquor and go to dances. He's not interested in either, but band is different. The kids there are quirky and creative. It's his only refuge, the one place where he feels he belongs. That's why Gazzinski has been looking forward to band practice all day, but now as he turns a corner, he stops and surprises. Normally the band practices inside, but today everyone's out on the lawn, and they're spread out in formation. Gazzinski finds the trombone section later and asks what they're doing. The girl explains that now that it's cooled off, it's time to practice marching. Marching. Gazzinski grimaces. In high school he hated marching, made him feel like they were all a bunch of army grunts that they were following orders just because someone told them to for no logical reason. Gazzinski tells the section leader that he doesn't like to march. She just snorts and says that if he wants to play in band he has to march. Gazzinski protests and says his high school band teacher let him skip marching practice, but the section leader looks exasperated. She tells him that if that's what he wants then he should go back to high school, then she adds that he's the right size for it. Gazzinski feels systemic drop, he's always been sensitive about being small, but then a fury takes hold of him, and then he says he refuses to march, that's final. The girl shrugs and says if that's the case then he can't be in band. She then pushes past him. For a moment he stunned, and then Gazzinski turns and storms off furious. He can't believe that this is what Harvard is like. Even the musicians are conformists. He can feel it in his bones. He's glad to quit. He heads back through the quad, but as he returns to his dorm he realizes he now has nothing to do but study. He doesn't have plans tonight or all weekend. He realizes then that he needs to find something else to occupy him, something intellectual. He doesn't know what it is yet, but he'll start looking. A year later Wanda Gazzinski is cleaning out Teddy's old bedroom in Evergreen Park. She finds a stack of old magazines and stops. She takes them and sits down on Teddy's twin bed and begins flipping through issues of scientific American. Bitter sweet memories come flooding back with every page. She remembers how when Teddy was a child she told him on her lap and read these magazines to him. He always had the smartest questions. Painsher to remember how closely they once were. Now Teddy's a sophomore at Harvard and she hardly hears from him. To make matters worse it sounds like he's lonelyer than ever. She wishes she could do something to help him, but sitting here halfway across the country, she's not sure what she could do. Wanda hears a thud from the front of the house. It sounds like the mail arrived. She could use a break from her heavy heart and so she gets up and heads downstairs. She's flipping through a pile of coupons and catalogs when she spots an envelope with a crimson seal. It's something from Harvard. Wanda tears it open. It's a letter from a research psychologist there, someone named Dr. Henry Murray. He says he wants to enroll Teddy in a psychological study. It would be a friendly discussion about philosophy and life. The goal of the study Murray says is to contribute to the solution of certain psychological problems. But Murray says the issue is that Teddy is still only 17. He needs Wanda's permission to enroll him in the study. Wanda frowns. She's not sure what psychological problems Murray wants to study, but she reads the letter again and her concern for Teddy overtakes her. He was supposed to meet friends at Harvard and maybe even a nice girl, but he's spiraling more than ever. He even quit band. That was the one place he was happy. Wanda looks again at the permission form. This Dr. Murray is a psychologist, someone who helps people with their problems. Maybe he can help Teddy. She's not sure about the study, but she is sure that if Teddy doesn't get help soon, he'll be in big trouble. So she grabs her pen, signs the form, and goes to find a stamp. She's going to mail this off today. A month later, Dr. Henry Murray takes a seat inside the Harvard Psychology Annex. Murray is a 66 year old psychologist, and right now he's inspecting the room where his next experiment will take place. It's covered in wallpaper with tiny yellow flowers, and entire walls dominated by a one way mirror. Murray cracks his knuckles and turns to the young man sitting in front of him. With his fracals and red hair, the man looks young enough to pass as a student. But Murray knows the truth. This man is actually a lawyer, and he's a key part of Murray's psychological study which begins today. When the study's participants arrive, they'll be told that they're debating a fellow student about their philosophy on life. In truth, they'll be debating one of the fiercest young litigators in Massachusetts. And Murray wants this lawyer to break the students down. That's the point of the study. But right now Murray is frustrated. The lawyer keeps asking whether he really should be so aggressive. Murray shakes his head, and tells the lawyer he needs to attack the students. He needs to make them squirm. What Murray doesn't say is that he has ties to the intelligence community in Washington, DC. And throughout World War II, he worked for the precursor to the CIA. Murray studied spy interrogations, harsh ones, and this study is the culmination of his work in the field. Now he wants to see what happens when a group of 22 students are verbally brutalized and receive this treatment on an ongoing basis. But first, this lawyer needs to toughen up. Murray tells the man that he can't be soft. The US is still at war with Russia, and the country needs this research. With that, Murray asks who the first participant is. The lawyer consults a sheet in his lab and says the first up is, code name lawful. Murray's eyes light up. He's been eager to test lawful. His code name for a sophomore named Theodore Kaczynski. He's young, blue collar, and appears to be the most alienated. That should make for a highly combustible mix. Soon, the interrogation will begin. Murray pulls up a chair behind the one way mirror and settles in to watch the sparks fly. It's the fall of 1960 and a year later. Today, Ted Kaczynski is once again sitting under bright hot lights in the observation room of the Harvard psychology addict. Two lights are aimed into his eyes. He squints at the bright light and dabs his forehead, wiping away beads of sweat. He feels like he's overheating. It doesn't help that he's recently grown a beard. It's another hopeless attempt to look older than just 18. Across from Kaczynski, sits an older student with bright red hair and freckles. The two sit facing each other. The chairs are the only furniture in the room. Sitting next to Kaczynski is a heart rate monitor, with wires connected to his chest. The monitor beeps every now and then, and a movie camera wears in the corner recording the psychological study. Right now, Kaczynski is trying to make a point about technology. It's something he has heard in one of his classes, and since then he hasn't been able to stop thinking about it. But he's been involved in these debate sessions for a year, and as always, the other student keeps interrupting and twisting his words. Kaczynski's jaw clenches, and he decides he's going to try and make his point another way. What I'm trying to say is that technology limits humankind spiritually, I mean. The other student shoots Kaczynski a look a pure attempt. That's so cliche. Because it's true, a new technology may seem positive at first, but in the end it almost always has a cost. It takes away your independence, your dignity. So, technology's bad. How about cancer drugs, huh? Curing little kids with brain tumors that limit your freedom? No, that's not that... It's like I was saying about the Amish. Again with the Amish, just listen. You're supposed to listen during a debate. Oh, so you get to make the rules of the debate. That right? Kaczynski squeezes his eye shut and slaps his own leg. Just listen. The Amish do it right. They accept some technologies, but reject others. They lead a simple life. Wait, you're an atheist, right? Right? But the Amish are Bible beaters. You're completely contradicting yourself. No, I'm not. You could still admire some aspects of their life. The other student leans back in his chair, smirking. What? Why are you smiling? I never saw it before. Now I know why you like the Amish so much. Oh, yeah, why? Is that stupid beard of yours? You even look on it. The student then reaches forward and tugs Kaczynski's beard, hard. Then he makes a billy goat noise. Kaczynski recoils and rips the heart rate patches off his chest. He jumps up, glaring fiercely into the mirror. He knows that the psychologists are watching him from the other side. And for a moment, he considers smashing his fist into the glass. He hovers there, his body shaking. He doesn't want to give up. He doesn't want to let them win. But he decides he's had enough. He turns and runs for the door. As he does, the other student begins laughing and says he looks forward to their next meeting in a week. Kaczynski grabs the doorknob and pauses. He feels small. He humiliated. Because the worst part is Kaczynski knows this guy is probably right. He's getting paid for each session and he needs the money. Kaczynski throws up in the door and stalks down the hallway. And as he runs down the steps of the psychology anix, there's only one thought coursing through his mind. He wants to burn down the whole building with every last person still inside. Hey, I'm Kaczy Dupacol, the host of Wunderys podcast against the odds. In our next season, a wildfire engulfs the town of Paradise, California, moving faster than anyone could have predicted. Residents are trapped while trying to flee. As traffic on the roads out of town grinds to a standstill. First responders and ordinary people take heroic actions as a deadliest fire in California history, rages around them. Follow against the odds on Apple podcasts, Amazon music or wherever listening now. It's six years later, 1967, in the middle of the night in Ann Armer, Michigan. Inside a small apartment, Ted Kaczynski is having a nightmare. The same one, he's had over and over again. In the dream, he's sitting inside a small dark room. A psychologist stands behind him. His breath is rancid and hot, and he whispers that Ted is sick. That he is worthless. Ted swivels in the chair and sees that the psychologist is holding some sort of device. He's using it to control Ted's mind, and he's also going to use it on Ted's younger brother, David. Like he does most nights, Kaczynski lashes out and attacks the psychologist in his dream. That's when he starts thrashing in his sleep and wakes up in a sweat. He takes him a full minute to realize where he is. He's lying in his dingy apartment, surrounded by piles of clothes, books on math, and plates of old food. He sits up and tries to slow his breath. It's been a terrible six years since he finished school at Harvard. He didn't know what to do with himself when he graduated. And so he decided to follow one of his only real interests to study math as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. He knows that people here consider him a rising star. He's published several impressive papers and even received a job offer at the University of California, Berkeley. It's one of the top math departments in the world. But inside Kaczynski boils with anger. He hates academia. His colleagues were supposed to be brilliant, but they mostly argue over titles and parking spots. They're petty conformists, not free thinkers, and more and more all Kaczynski dreams about is escaping somewhere to just disappear. He goes for long walks in the woods, and sometimes he doesn't want to turn back. But he knows he has to, because he can't figure out how to live without money. Kaczynski falls back onto the pillow. Right now, lying in bed, he has more immediate needs. He has to get back to sleep. It's only 2am. He has classes to teach. But just as he's drifting off, something thuds against his wall. He jumps up his adrenaline surging. And he hears another low thud and then another in a slow, building rhythm. Kaczynski groans and sinks back down into his sheets. It's the young couple next door. They're insatiable, never quiet. So Kaczynski pounces fists against the wall. The only response is a muffled giggle. He lies back down in bed, listening in misery. He's been at Michigan for years and he hasn't gotten a single date. He's a full grown man now, six feet tall, but the insecurities of high school still eat away at him. Kaczynski buries his face in his pillow and screams. He's leaving for Berkeley in a few weeks. When he gets there, his life has got to change. It must. Two years later, Ted Kaczynski sits on a bench on the campus of UC Berkeley. It's an overcast day and bells chime out from a nearby tower. Kaczynski turns the page in his book and takes a bite of an apple. He's trying to concentrate, but right now he can't. He looks up, his impatience rising once again. It's those damn protesters. Their shouts and chants are never ending. It's 1969 and the media has been calling the campus berserkly and with good reason. Black Panthers are gathering for a march. Anti war protesters are waving signs in their black pcoats and braves. Nearby, some long haired communists sell copies of Chairman Mao's little red book. Kaczynski scowls at all the assembled protesters. They're convinced that politics will change things, that they can reform society. Kaczynski snorts. He knows they're wrong. No matter what sort of government they set up, technology will always be there. That's the real danger he has no doubt. Industrial society chokes off everything that's meaningful about human life. And it's not just human life. The planet is dying too. Kaczynski has seen all this firsthand. He's now a professor at UC Berkeley and he's seen how the university and its professors are part of the problem. Math, physics, chemistry, psychology. They're all advancing the agenda of an industrial society and ruining the world. Kaczynski knows that somehow he has to stop this, but he won't be doing it by marching. Kaczynski can't help but smile at the irony. All those hippies think he's the square because he's the math professor and a tweed suit. As soon they'll never know that he's far more radical than they'll ever be. Kaczynski rises and tosses the half eaten apple in a trash can. He walks past a group of protesters and grins as they shout their anti war slogans. Right now Kaczynski has to go teach a class, but he's not going to do this forever. He has other plans and soon his life and his work are going to look a lot different. Two months later Ted Kaczynski strides down the hallway of the math building at UC Berkeley. Bulletin boards line the hallways and are pinned with flyers about poetry readings and upcoming protests. Kaczynski hardly notices them. He's heading to a meeting with a chair of the math department and he's feeling annoyed. I shouldn't have to have this meeting. Kaczynski already wrote a letter and made his intentions crystal clear, but he'll do them the courtesy of explaining himself again so there's no ambiguity about his big decision. Kaczynski arrives at the office of John Addison. Addison is the department chair and at the moment he's frowning over something. His desk is piled with books and stacks of papers and in front of him is Kaczynski's letter. Addison looks up. Ted, come in. Take a seat. Can I get you some coffee? No, thank you. T? Anything else? I've stated my preference. Oh. All right. Well, let me turn this down. Addison steps over to her radio and shuts it off. Then he turns back to Kaczynski. Really is beautiful, isn't it? Music? Math? They're one and the same. I just love Beethoven. That wasn't Beethoven. They're his Mozart. All right. Well, let's get down to it. I've read your letter and I have to Sam Stund. And I'm afraid I can't accept your resignation. You don't. I don't need your acceptance, John. Come June, I'm leaving. But why, Ted? You're a star. The youngest assistant professor in the history of the entire department. Be honest. Does Stanford pose you harvard? Whatever salary they offered, we can try to match it. No one offered me a job. Well, Ted, I had to tell you. I'm baffled. I just don't understand your resignation. So please, are we through? Wait, just tell me why you're doing this. Why are you quitting? Kaczynski standarded him for a long moment. He was hoping to avoid this, but Addison might as well hear the truth. I'm leaving because I'm through with it. I can't support the technological industrial complex. Addison squins to look of confusion in his eyes. I'm sorry. What? I said, I can no longer support the technological industrial complex. I heard you, but Ted, you're a mathematician. Math, feed science. Science feeds technology. But we do pure math, which gets twisted into terrible things. Math helps people drill for oil or make some new insecticide that kills birds and trees. Math is the gasoline on the fire. You're serious. You realize you're throwing away your career. That's exactly my intention. What are you going to do? Kaczynski smiles. Who knows? Goodbye, Professor. You're a fool, but you are always decent to me. Kaczynski heads for the stairs, then walked outside. It's a glorious day, the first real day of spring. For the most part, Kaczynski believes every word he said about technology. But he did tell one lie. He knows exactly what he's going to do with himself now. Kaczynski is going to save up his last few paychecks, then he's going to buy a piece of land somewhere remote, maybe in Canada. But he won't just escape. If technological society has been choking him to death, within Kaczynski knows he's fully justified in fighting back. The thought makes him feel strong. He breathes deep, then starts to whistle as he walks. He spent his whole life getting bullied and jerked around. And what has he ever done but take it? Take it and then take it some more. Time for taking it is over. He's going to give, give himself time and space he needs. Give himself an escape from the technological world and give everyone else. Hell. Next on American scandal, Ted Kaczynski falls in love. But when he has his heart broken, he retreats into the wilderness of Montana, pushes forward with the deadly bombing campaign. From Wundery, this is episode one of the Unibomber for American scandal. An quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, but all our dramatizations are based on historical research. If you'd like to learn more about the Unibomber case, we recommend the books Harvard and the Unibomber by Austin Chase, every last time by David Kaczynski and hunting the Unibomber by Lee S. Wheel. American scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by me, Linti Graham for Airship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett. This episode is written by Sam Keane, edited by Christina Mollsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Ribbon. Executive producers are Stephanie Jenns, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her nonlopes for Wundery.