Six Degrees of Separation

You know that assertion that any given person is six degrees of separation away from any other person in the world (that usually being Kevin Bacon)? That is to say, you know someone whose circle of acquaintances includes someone whose circle of acquaintances includes [repeat as needed, up to six times]. . .Kevin Bacon?

Well, this is apparently true, confirmed by a vast study of millions of text messages, with any two people being connected within 6.6 networks. So actually, it’s closer to seven degrees of separation. But still. . . .See Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon – washingtonpost.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “everyone.” People in the industrialized world, perhaps. But I suspect most of us are more than seven degrees separated from the average Amazonian tribesman or African nomad.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “everyone.” People in the industrialized world, perhaps. But I suspect most of us are more than seven degrees separated from the average Amazonian tribesman or African nomad.

  • Orianna Laun

    Of course, if you go smaller than the industrialized world, those degrees shrink. For example, in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, it’s only about two degrees.

  • Orianna Laun

    Of course, if you go smaller than the industrialized world, those degrees shrink. For example, in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, it’s only about two degrees.

  • Sam M

    Speaking from mathematical perspective, I think there’s a difference between saying that two people are connected with an average of 6.6 degrees of separation and saying that any two people are connected by 7 degrees of separation.
    According to this article, only 78% of the pairs could be connected by seven degrees of separation, with some pairs requiring as many as 29 connections. (3rd and 4th paragraphs on second page.)

  • Sam M

    Speaking from mathematical perspective, I think there’s a difference between saying that two people are connected with an average of 6.6 degrees of separation and saying that any two people are connected by 7 degrees of separation.
    According to this article, only 78% of the pairs could be connected by seven degrees of separation, with some pairs requiring as many as 29 connections. (3rd and 4th paragraphs on second page.)

  • Susan aka organshoes

    My family has always known this.
    Our father once went to school with someone who knew someone who knew someone who was related to someone who had punched Joe Louis in the nose.
    But I wonder, really, is it a phenomenon that’s always existed, but is now [somewhat] measurable through electronic communication?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    My family has always known this.
    Our father once went to school with someone who knew someone who knew someone who was related to someone who had punched Joe Louis in the nose.
    But I wonder, really, is it a phenomenon that’s always existed, but is now [somewhat] measurable through electronic communication?

  • FullTime

    I doubt it could be said to have always existed. Before the age of exploration or the crusades before then I imagine the world was far too isolated into pockets of civilization that had not contact with each other.

    As for today, even with remote tribesman…if you know someone who knows a missionary…that missionary is going to have a superior in a missionary office…who knows other missionaries…who know guides to remote villages (if they haven’t been there themselves)

    I enjoy this game (though I fore go the Kevin Bacon thing, that was pretty much for movies, not life) It is fun seeing how far I am from famous people, like Ronald Reagan or Walt Disney. Regular people are fun too, but harder, because if you already know them then the game isn’t that much fun…

  • FullTime

    I doubt it could be said to have always existed. Before the age of exploration or the crusades before then I imagine the world was far too isolated into pockets of civilization that had not contact with each other.

    As for today, even with remote tribesman…if you know someone who knows a missionary…that missionary is going to have a superior in a missionary office…who knows other missionaries…who know guides to remote villages (if they haven’t been there themselves)

    I enjoy this game (though I fore go the Kevin Bacon thing, that was pretty much for movies, not life) It is fun seeing how far I am from famous people, like Ronald Reagan or Walt Disney. Regular people are fun too, but harder, because if you already know them then the game isn’t that much fun…

  • Julie Voss

    Twenty years ago I sat next to a man in a Japanese class in a private school in Tokyo. He was from Michigan but I found out had worked at a college radio station in California with one of my best friends. My friend and I came from a small Southern California town (population 1,400).
    Only 2 degrees from Kevin Bacon. . .

  • Julie Voss

    Twenty years ago I sat next to a man in a Japanese class in a private school in Tokyo. He was from Michigan but I found out had worked at a college radio station in California with one of my best friends. My friend and I came from a small Southern California town (population 1,400).
    Only 2 degrees from Kevin Bacon. . .

  • Bruce

    Sometimes I think there may be six degrees of separation between me and my teenaged daughter…

  • Bruce

    Sometimes I think there may be six degrees of separation between me and my teenaged daughter…

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    In the ELS, you are always only two degrees away from anyone named Preus. ;)

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    In the ELS, you are always only two degrees away from anyone named Preus. ;)

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