4.74 Degrees of Separation
03 February 2012
There has been a semi-proven concept kicking around for some time that any person on terra firma is connected to anyone else by no more than six intermediaries. Simply put, you would connect to any other person on the globe by drilling past five other people. There have been various attempts to “prove” this concept but it really is a function of the phenomenon of doubling of pennies. Yeah, you know the old teaser, “would you rather work for me for a month if I paid you a million dollars cash or if I paid you on cent the first day and doubled it each day for the month?” Well, you know the response……The latter engagement would return the lucky and shrewd employee more than $11 million dollars in comparison to the paltry $1 million from the sure thing.
So I believe that the same power of numbers applies to the commonly held notion that there are only six connections between you and the Sherpa from Tibet. Assume that you likely know at least 1,000 people and that each of them knows 1,000 others, do the math on 1,000 to the power of six. Yeah, that’s a trillion people, way more than the world’s population of about 7 billion souls.
There have been additional “studies” conducted most recently by the good folks at Facebook who now claim that the ratio has been reduced to 4.74. My only question is “ do you really know all of your so-called “friends” on Facebook”.
Anyway, a long way to my own, unproven but easily acceptable theory that among cruisers in North America there are only two degrees of separation! Consider this: the profile of the typical cruiser is between 50 and 75, likely middle class, ecologically sensitive, self reliant, in relatively good health, adventuresome, etc. and you immediately narrow the catchment group to a fraction of the total population of North America; say around 2 million souls. OK, so, say I know 2,000 people and each of them knows 2,000 people, but considering that there will be overlap in our familiarity and we only consider that they know 1,000 unique individuals, do the math! 2,000 times 1,000 equals, you guessed it 2 million people.
Well, the point of all this is that there is a kinship and familiarity among cruisers that is really uncanny. A couple of examples: Good friends Blair and Laurie on Odissea XX from Ontario were recently in Vero Beach when a boat rafts up to them. Guess who? Brian and Maxime from Fredericton, long time friends of ours.
How about this one,….. Three years ago we meet a great couple from Gust O Wind from Ontario and have dinner with them. Marlene, upon finding our that Judy was born in Newfoundland somewhat meekly asks if Judy happens to know a lady by the name of Judy Judge. Well, happens to be my Judy’s first cousin.
How about our having met Steve and Jean from Trader (now Island Trader) a number of years ago in Douglas Harbour, only to having crossed their paths at least five times in the interim. These coincidences and fascinating vicissitudes happen all the time on the waterways and make this life much more than “messing around in boats”.