Sam, Dan and Sheila

An irreverent tour guide in a temple of democracy. A crystal-ball scientist. A fighter pilot who learned to fly when she was 7 years old. Each with shadows tracing their days. Three profiles of perseverance and purpose.

In the presence of the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Sam Anthony’s narration describes George Washington in a cape and white tights “that make him look like a professional wrestler.” (Photo by Sam Kittner)

The Guiding Light

Witty, wise, selfless and grateful: American democracy’s narrator, Sam Anthony, has been introducing visitors to the National Archives for as long as he’s battled cancer — almost 20 years. You receive more than a lesson in history with Sam; you get a lesson in what matters most in life. Enter here to meet the most inspiring human being I’ve ever interviewed. Read more …

The Man Who Knows Too Much

Dan Ariely spent his first year of college in a hospital burn unit inside a tight, brown elastic suit that covered everything but his eyes, ears and mouth — the better to protect the tissue still healing underneath. There, a universe apart from all the behaviors he used to know, he began to watch others as though he were an immigrant in a foreign land — all these strange and wondrous ways that people lived their lives and made their decisions. From the psychological debris of his pain, Ariely built a career as a sought-after behavioral genius. Read more …

First in Flight

Of 4,015 fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force in the year 2000, 37 were women; there were five women who were mission capable to fly the F-15E in combat. Sheila Johnson, who learned to fly before she learned to drive, was one of them. She became one of the Air Force’s elite fighter pilots: fast, fearless and making every moment count after a childhood spent observing her father’s dance with mortality. Read more …


From “The Guiding Light”

“I realized I could complain about it and get bitter and point my finger and blame someone else. Or I could find a way to get around it. And I didn’t want to be that bitter, angry person in the world because it’s all going to end soon. Let’s make it count for something.”

Sam Anthony
From “The Man Who Knows Too Much”

From the outside, Ariely’s skill to see through us all seems quite a load to bear, so clever and otherworldly that it might drive one to madness. And it can feel slightly supernatural from the inside, Ariely said. “You know, it feels like it from time to time,” he said. “It becomes second nature. There’s clearly a downside to thinking about human behavior all the time — clearly a downside to having a discussion with somebody and in the back of my mind thinking all the time about an analysis of the situation and why they are doing that.”