The Human Factor is the eighth episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It aired on November 11, 1963, during the first season.
“In northern Greenland, the mountains stand like a wall along Victoria Channel, whose straight course marks the line of the great Baffin Fault. Until recently, not even the Eskimos ventured into this arctic waste; but, today, as in other lonely places of the world, the land is dominated by those instruments of detection which stand as a grim reminder of Man's fear of Man. This is Point TABU, a name given this predominantly underground base by a young officer who explained that the letters in TABU stood for 'Total Abandonment of Better Understanding'. Some two hundred men and a few women make this their permanent residence. Their task is to maintain a constant alert against enemy attack, and be prepared to respond to it, devastatingly.”
At an outpost in Greenland, an officer (Harry Guardino) begins losing his grip on reality after the death of a soldier whom he commanded into an icy crevice. Haunted by the soldier's specter, the officer decides that he must detonate an atomic bomb to obliterate the crevice, and the outpost as well. The post's doctor uses a unique mind probe in an attempt to understand what is driving the officer mad. When an unexpected earthquake causes the probe to malfunction, the minds of the doctor and the officer are switched. This switch enables the insane officer to make plans to detonate the atomic device in the guise of the doctor, while the real doctor is confined to a padded cell.
“A weapon? No, only an instrument: neither good nor evil, until men put it to use. And then, like so many of Man's inventions, it can be used either to save lives or destroy them, to make men sane or to drive them mad, to increase human understanding or to betray it. But, it will be men who make the choice. By itself, the instrument is nothing, until you add the human factor.”
- Gary Merrill - Dr. James Hamilton
- Harry Guardino - Maj. Roger Brothers
- Sally Kellerman - Ingrid Larkin
- Ivan Dixon - Harold Giles
- Joe De Santis - Bill Campbell
- John Newton - Peterson
- Shirley O'Hara - Dr. Soldini
- James Sikking - Orderly
- Jane Langley - Nurse
Cinematographer - Conrad Hall