Episode 325:

Major Awards

Ron Jones and “The Third Wave” Social Experiment


The Disappearance and Death of Robert Thompson


Episode 325: Major Awards

This week, Karen and Georgia cover Ron Jones and “The Third Wave” social experiment and the disappearance and death of Robert Thompson.

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Ron Jones and “The Third Wave” Social Experiment

Ron Jones and “The Third Wave” Social Experiment Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

Other Images:

Ron Jones (via Medium)

Banner in Ron Jones' classroom at Cubberley High School (via Medium)


"The Third Wave was an experimental social movement created by California high school history teacher Ron Jones in 1967 to explain how the German population could have accepted the actions of the Nazi regime during the rise of the Third Reich and the Second World War.

While Jones taught his students about Nazi Germany during his senior level Contemporary World History class, Jones found it difficult to explain how the German people could have accepted the actions of the Nazis. He decided to create a fictional social movement as a demonstration of the appeal of fascism. Over the course of five days (or nine, according to student Sherry Toulsey), Jones, a member of the SDS, Cubberley United Student Movement sponsor and Black Panthers supporter – conducted a series of exercises in his classroom emphasizing discipline and community, intended to model certain characteristics of the Nazi movement.

As the movement grew outside his class and began to number in the hundreds, Jones began to feel that the experiment had spiraled out of control. He convinced the students to attend a rally where he claimed that the classroom project was part of a nationwide movement, and that the announcement of a Third Wave presidential candidate would be televised. Upon their arrival, the students were presented with a blank channel. Jones told his students of the true nature of the movement as an experiment in fascism, and presented to them a short film discussing the actions of Nazi Germany.

The project was adapted into an American film, The Wave, in 1981, and a critically acclaimed German film, Die Welle, in 2008..."

— Source: The Third Wave Wikipedia

The Disappearance and Death of Robert Thompson

The Disappearance and Death of Robert Thompson Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Alex Simpson on Unsplash 

Other Images:

Robert Thompson (via LA Times)


"Inside the chill of the county coroner's office, the detective and the forensic anthropologist stood over soot-covered bones arrayed on a metal table.

Over two hours, Elizabeth Miller provided a running dialogue for each bone. She picked up one rib after another, studying them for knife scrapes.

The bones were those of a boy, perhaps 12 to 15 years old, found in the chimney of an abandoned building in South Los Angeles. The boy wore faded and stained tan jeans and a white shirt but no shoes.

"I'm sure if we had a photograph, we'd be able to recognize him," Miller said.

More than once, Los Angeles Police Det. Chris Barling asked: Was he killed?

There was no sign of trauma, Miller said. No self-defense wounds on the finger bones, no scrapes or damage to other bones. The jaw suggested major dental work to repair an injury, but that was it.

That was March 28, 2005, and the homicide detective and the anthropologist had hunches, nothing more.

Miller said she thought the boy sneaked into the chimney and died either of starvation or positional asphyxiation. Perhaps the clay pipe of the chimney muted his calls for help. Maybe the same pipe carried the smell of decay up and out. The remains still gave out a waxy, organic odor, which led Miller to believe that he had probably been dead less than five years. The boy's two front teeth protruded, and his skull had strong African American features.

"I tend to go with weird accidents more," she said. "I prefer to think weird things happen as opposed to somebody killing and dumping a boy into a chimney."

Barling felt differently.

"Maybe I'm just morbid," he said. "I just had a hunch that it didn't make sense it was accidental. ... My gut is that we're dealing with a murder."

The discovery of the skeletal remains at 89th and Main streets in South Los Angeles had been a fluke. On March 24, 2005, an 11-year-old girl had climbed on the roof of the abandoned halfway house to retrieve a soccer ball.

The girl peered down into the chimney. She ran to her father and told him she had seen a skull..."

— Source: Ranker article by Laura Allan