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Six Degrees of Separation: Plausible?

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posted on Oct, 24 2006 @ 08:42 AM
Well to begin, I should explain what this is exactly, incase someone is uncertain.

Six degrees of separation is the hypothesis that anyone on Earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries.

The hypothesis was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Karinthy Frigyes in a short story called Chains. The concept is based on the idea that the number of acquaintances grows exponentially with the number of links in the chain, and so only a small number of links is required for the set of acquaintances to become the whole human population.

How does everyone feel about this hypothesis? Ridiculous? Fathomable?

It is something I find myself thinking about from time to time, and it is alittle tough to comprehend at times. But I believe it is possible that we are all connected to one another through five or less intermediaries.

It is a good theory to look at when we are discussing Racism or other Social Issues because it helps understand that these are regular people like you and I. That stranger on the corner who we walk past every day and don't offer a second thought, actually could be a person who has directly influenced your life in one way or another without even knowing it.

Every soul we see daily is a person whom we are connected to.

ABC has launched a show recently based on this theory, and it is a great show. Here is a link to the show website: Six Degrees. It is on Wednesday nights, at 9 or 10 EST.

So what do you think? Are we all connected to one another? Is this the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard or one of the most insightful thoughts we have come across?

I'm leaning towards the latter.

posted on Oct, 24 2006 @ 09:07 AM
George W. Bush - Jack Abramoff - Mohammed Atta

George W. Bush - N.E Bin Laden - Osama Himself

Dammit.... need more intermediaries

posted on Oct, 24 2006 @ 03:33 PM
This hypothesis extends alittle further than that.

Thank you for inserting a little humor but I would like to open this up for some serious discussion.

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 02:40 PM
It's absolutely plausible in theory. Example, I attended my 20th high school reunion this past summer. A questionaire was sent out to everyone by email, so that we could kind of catch up with each other before the actual reunion. One of the questions concerned brushes with greatness. Now, I attended a small-town school in Southwest Texas. I was astounded at the breadth of responses.

Some classmates had met celebrities, politicians, scientists, etc. One had traveled to Rome for her studies and met the Pope! So, in theory, I'm two steps away from each of these people. So, I don't think it's a stretch at all.

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 02:50 PM
I wondered about the 6 degrees to POTUS. I checked and I'm only 3 degrees to Bush 43. I know someone; who knows someone; who worked with Bush 43 in the White House. That's 3 degrees, right?

[edit on 10/25/2006 by FlyersFan]

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 03:15 PM
Here's some data regarding this phenomenon. It seems that the whole idea of "six degrees of separation" is the product of that very fecund mind of the infamous Stanley Milgram, who should be well known to every student who has ever taken a survey course in psychology.

E-mail Study Corroborates Six Degrees of Separation

Small world phenomenon

Six degrees of separation

Perhaps, this is the most surprising finding of all:

Judith Kleinfeld, a professor psychology at Alaska Fairbanks University, went back to Milgram's original research notes and found something surprising.

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.

Milgram was a giant figure in his world of research, but here was evidence that the claim he was famously associated with was not supported by his experiments.

Six degrees of separation' may be the academic equivalent of an urban myth

Judith Kleinfeld, Psychologist
"I was shocked. I was horrified," she said.

And when she looked for other studies, none of those matched up to the claim either.

In the most recent, two years ago, only 3% of letters reached their target.

Even Milgram's study was apparently a bust.

Six Degrees of Separation: Urban Myth?

The bedroom:

Six degrees of copulation

Someone even applied the concept to cytology:

UQ study examines six degrees of biological separation

The Boardroom:

Six Degrees of Separation: Examining Back Door Links between Directors and CEO Pay

Google Search

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 05:40 PM
Wow Grady, thanks for the links.

To say the experiment was a bust, would be an overstatement I believe. Humans are lazy by nature, their willingness to take part in an experiment is a variable that needs to be accounted for.

If we sit down and think about it, I believe its capable. A family friend of mine is an MP, which connects me to the Canadian government, which in turn would connect me to Dubya.

MP knows PM who knows President.

The problem with this hypothesis is conclusively proving it on paper. Enormous amount of effort would be required to get any headway on this one, and the involvement of many many people.

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 05:59 PM
The idea illustrates a good rule of thumb to refer to anytime you want to say or do something stupid in public.

Actually, in ancient times, when it was "common knowledge" that the gods routinely walked among men it was understood that how we treat strangers might come back to haunt us in the future.

Whether or not Milgram's experiment "worked" really is of little consequence outside of academia.

What is important is to remember that no matter where you go, you are likely to meet someone you know or who knows the same people you know.

When I was in Vietnam, I wrote to my parents that I would be spending a few days on the USS Ogden (LPD-5) preparing for an amphibious operation. My parents had moved to a new city while I was stationed in California and training to be sent overseas, so I knew no one at all in that city.

My parents wrote back that the son of couple in their church was stationed aboard the Ogden and we met up aboard ship and had a chat.

I still have the picture of us standing in his quarters. He gave me a tour of the ship that Marines would never get otherwise and treated me as a friend, even though we had never met before.

That's one small world story.

Another one is when I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, I had a buddy who when he heard that I was going to be transferred to Little Creek VA, asked me to look up one of his high school buddies, who was stationed somewhere in Norfolk, but he didn't know where.

The guy was a Marine so that did narrow it down a little, but there are so many servicemen in the Norfolk area, I just had to laugh and told him I'd see what I could do.

When I got to Little Creek, it turned out that I was that guy's replacement.

Now, that's a really small world.

[edit on 2006/10/25 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 12:10 PM
Its great to read of stories like that, as it does work as a reminder to how small this world truly is. How often do we meet a complete stranger and within minutes of sparking a conversation, it becomes clear that we are linked to one another.

If this were proven, would it work against racism or prejudice?

I would say, very minimal at best. Racists look facts in the eye and deny their existence. A link between two people who do nothing to deter this reasoning. Which is disapointing, as it indicates that racism is, unfortunately, here to stay.

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 01:42 PM
I think that the important thing in Milgrams idea is this. Say the average person knows 100 people. So I have 100 acquaintances, so thats me in the middle of a circle with, say, 100 lines radiating from it. Each line branches into 100 more lines. Then each of those into 100 more lines, and so on and so on. Milgram seems to be saying that by 6 levels, you've got enough 'lines' to cover the entire population of the earth, so everyone can be traced to anyone else in just a few levels.

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 04:12 PM
That is a nice way to visually sum it all up.

Do you think it would take a step in the right direction, when it comes to racism, if this were proved factual?

The question is not how far the intermediaries extend, it is whether or not they would cover the worlds population. So I think we can all agree that they certainly cover a lot of distance, but is the entire planet abit of a stretch?

posted on Sep, 20 2007 @ 01:56 PM
reply to post by chissler

This theory is very interesting and I want to invite you to be one of the first members to a new site. It is an invitation only website and I think you will really like it. It is being started with only the people that know and appreciate the six degrees theory. . Kind of like a “MySpace” for grownups. It is based on the 6 degrees of Separation theory. I want to see how far my 6 degrees of separation can reach. It is really pretty interesting. And there is nothing else like it on the internet.
I have been looking for a friend for 21 years and still can not find her. I was on MySpace but it was impossible to find my own daughter there.
Anyway, check it out and I hope to see you there. You never know who you will end up reconnecting with. Just put in this email address ( in the Invitation section on the homepage and you can get in. Once you register, you can invite as many people as you want to. Make sure you read the “About Us” section to understand the website concept. By the way, the Basic site is FREE!
I hope to see you there,

posted on Sep, 21 2007 @ 08:37 AM
Six Degrees of Separation.
Well I cant speak for the issue on a global scale. But on a local level such a thing is possible due to the relatively small size of the city of Christchurch. I have gone to job interviews or something along those lines and I have encountered someone that knows a fellow member of the Model Railroad club I belong to. Anyway that is my personal perspective on the matter.

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