February 7, 2003

Time to Save the World

Stories of people trying to save the world one person at a time, and stories of sudden truths delivered by complete strangers.


Host Ira Glass talks with Michael Beaumier, who runs the personals section of the Chicago Reader, and who functions as a kind of guardian angel for many of the singles who advertise in his paper. (7 minutes)
Act One

The Rundown

The story of one girl's mission to bring people together everywhere by eliminating small talk forever. This American Life producer Starlee Kine has been going around lecturing audiences on the subject. She encourages them to switch to a new system she's invented, called The Rundown. Recorded at The Little Gray Book Lectures at the Galapagos Art Space in New York City. Thanks to Sheila Heti and the Trampoline Hall Lecture Series. (6 minutes)

Act Two

Heather Help Me

Jessica Riddle reports on how, as a teenager, she and her friends would pick up the phone and dial the letters of the name "Heather" and talk to the old man who'd pick up the phone. At first they'd just prank call him. But then it turned out to be much more. (18 minutes)
Act Four

The Science Of Good And Evil

Susan Drury reports from Tennessee on a test that provides sudden truth from a stranger. It's based on a science whose goals could not be grander—to aid in the fight between good and evil. It was invented by a guy named Robert Hartman, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his work back in the 1970s. What's most amazing about the test is how effective it is. (16 minutes)

Learn more about the personality test mentioned in the show, the Hartman Value Profile. Or, contact the testing company featured in our story, Axiometrics International.