Thursday, January 15, 2009

Six degrees of separation false?   posted by Razib @ 1/15/2009 10:41:00 PM

Rebecca Skloot points me to a piece which claims that the idea that there are, on average, six degrees of separation is false:
It turned out, she told us, that 95% of the letters sent out had failed to reach the target.

Not only did they fail to get there in six steps, they failed to get there at all.


We like the idea of six degrees of separation, she says, because it makes the world feel more intimate. But there are barriers - like race and class - she argues, that can sometimes make separation real and deep.

You can read the longer more academic argument against the idea online. The idea that there were only six degrees struck me as weird because my own personal life seems to exhibit a lot of clustering based on affinities.