An article in the NY Times claims that ‘6 degrees of separation’ is an exaggeration. They tested it by asking people to forward emails to people that they knew in hopes that the chain would eventually lead to 1 of the researchers’ destinations. I know that I delete any chain mail that I get, so I’m not sure that the study’s results are valid.
Let me provide an anecdotal rebuttal. I went to Subha and Archana’s wedding in Chicago last weekend and I’m guessing there were 400 people there. I met about 20 people whom I hadn’t met before. Of those, 2 had links to me through people who had nothing to do with the wedding. One was a cousin of Sushil, my good buddy from Boston. The other one is a little more convoluted. My cousin Deepu was the inspiration for the name of a musical group when he was at Wash U in St. Louis. Deepu has since moved on to San Fran, so the group has changed its name. A person I met at the wedding is currently a member of that group and has always wanted to meet the infamous Deepu, whose name is plastered over the other members’ instruments.
Now, does being connected through a band’s name count as a degree of separation?