Mudcat Café message #2169234 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105397   Message #2169234
Posted By: Uncle_DaveO
11-Oct-07 - 08:17 PM
Thread Name: BS: Six Degrees Of Separation
Subject: RE: BS: Six Degrees Of Separation
When I first heard the 6 degree hypothesis, I pooh-poohed it, big time!

Then I recalled that, while I was raised in a working class family in a small city in Minnesota, with (as far as I could see) no particular connections, there was more there than met the eye.

My mother (connection 1) was for years the secretary of the county Democrat-Farmer-Labor party. During the 1948 presidential campaign Truman's train ran through our city, and as a local functionary my mother (1) rode with Truman (2) to the next stop. Truman, of course, had a long political career, climaxing as President of the U.S. Can you imagine how far the third step would take you?   Mind-boggling! My mother was also slightly acquainted with Hubert Humphrey (2), and there again, a wide, wide connection spread, although overlapping with that of Truman. Remember the overlap. It soon gets in the way.

Even with that staggering connection spread in just three levels and the greater spread implicit in the next three, however, there's a bug in the 6 level argument. That is the overlap factor you can see exemplified in the Humphrey-Truman spreads referred to above.

If the idea is that six levels, starting back then, would reach from me to everyone on the planet today, remember there have been several generations born and raised in the meantime. Yes, generations of descent can carry the levels wider, but they also use up the remaining level count. And remember that here again we get connection-spread overlap.

Six levels surely would result in my having connections pretty much world-wide, but every last inhabitant of the Earth, today? No way.
Primitive tribe members in remote places, generations down from my original connection to my mother, will be untouched within the mere six levels.

Dave Oesterreich