In ECON 110—Principles of Microeconomics—while Professor Thompson was lecturing about why some people have jobs (and some do not), Sam Dan ‘27 raised his hand with an effortless confidence to ask a question about cryptocurrency—a complicated question, seeing as it was about material that had not been covered at all. Sam’s question was so intricate that it was hard for anyone–even the Professor, a supposed “doctor” of the field–to see how it was remotely related to the lecture. The whole class was taken aback, as they all collectively realized that Sam Dan is actually a bona fide genius.
We sat down with Professor Thompson to hear more about our campus prodigy. “From the moment I heard Sam’s question during our second class about a flat tax, I knew I had uncovered the sort of brilliant pupil that only comes along once in a lifetime. I have devoted my life to studying economics, and even I could not see how a flat tax would be remotely relevant to our conversation about what a job is. But Sam could. The way Sam’s brain works simply cannot be taught; it’s innate. He is the smartest student I have ever met.”
The other students in the TF 1:10 PM ECON 110 section agreed. Kelly Cow ‘27 told us: “One of the reasons why I came to Williams was to learn from my peers, and I have already learned so much from Sam. He taught me about this new, elegant idea where every dollar is taxed at the same rate. He’s just so, so smart. At no other institution would I be able to learn about these cutting-edge ideas. Perhaps at other colleges one can meet people who are going to change the world, but here at Williams, students are already changing the world.”
The College granted him an exception on all those liberal arts “breadth” policies, and he is now enrolled in nine independent studies with nine different economics professors. In each of his independent study meetings, Sam asks the professor to tell him about their field of research. While the professor is speaking, Sam pops in his airpods. Once he gets sick of his music, he chooses a time to interrupt and asks the professor a convoluted–at times, even paradoxical–question about a completely unrelated topic. The professor sits in silence for hours, perhaps days. They weep and thank Sam profusely for pushing them to think outside the box. Chair of Economics and W. Van Alan Clark '41 Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences Jon Bakija, through tears of joy, disclosed “I would love to tell you that I wasn’t sure who was teaching who. But I am sure. Sam was teaching me.”
Since the New York Times published their piece on Sam, “Genius Discovered; The Field of Economics Will Never Be The Same,” Sam’s life has become unrecognizable. Forbes created a “20 under 20” list, seeing as Sam is 19, to honor his achievement. He was immediately inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, given an honorary score of 118 on the Putnam exam, and sworn in as the Editor-in-Chief of the Williams Record.