View Full Version : Sixes and Sevens

Penny Tompkins
07 August 2008, 07:56 AM
New research taking place that I though would be of interest to the Forum:

"Turns out, it is a small world.

The "small world theory," embodied in the old saw that there are just "six degrees of separation" between any two strangers on Earth, has been largely corroborated by a massive study of electronic communication.

With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.


Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon
Big Microsoft Study Supports Small World Theory By Peter Whoriskey

Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, August 2, 2008


07 August 2008, 09:35 AM
In researching my talk for the conference this figure comes up a lot.
Six Questions? - Six degrees of separation
This is the theory that there are about 6 steps or linkages between groups, which form small world networks. A number of studies support this notion;
· A Harvard university study showed people in the United States appeared to be connected on average by six friendship links,
· On ‘Facebook’, 6.38 degrees of separation are being found, between its millions of users.
· A study at Columbia University found an average of 6 intermediaries to deliver emails to recipients

Its logical to me that if its happening out there around us it must be happening within us?


Corrie van Wijk
08 August 2008, 09:37 AM
John: "Its logical to me that if its happening out there around us it must be happening within us?"

YES John, it is happening out there, ánd it is happening within us.

AND the brain has a few more neural connections than there are people on this earth. (Steve, could you do some math on this?)
They don't all communicate with eachother, like we people don't.

E.g. we don't speak the same language, we don't all have access to all means of communication, etc.

Penny Tompkins
09 August 2008, 01:46 PM
Thanks to Corrie and John for your examples of small world networks.

Although many small world networks have six (or seven) degrees of separation, not all do:

“In the cat brain, for example, the number of degrees of separation turns out to be between only two and three. The number is identical in the macaque brain.” Mark Buchanan, Nexus, 2002, p. 65.

And, "... species in food webs appear to be on average two links away from each other; molecules in the cell are separated on average by three chemical reactions; scientists in different fields of science are separated by four to six coauthoriship links; the Internet, a network of hundreds of thousands of routers, has a separation of ten; and the neurons in the brain of the C. elegans worm are separated by fourteen synapses. In fact, it appears that the Web holds the absolute record at nineteen degrees, as all other networks studied so far display a separation of between two and fourteen.

"Nineteen degrees may appear to be drastically far from six degrees. This is not the case however. What is important is that huge networks, with hundreds of millions or billions of nodes, collapse, displaying separation far shorter than the number of nodes they have. ... Seen from this perspective, the difference between six and nineteen is negligible." Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked, 2003, p. 34.

I'm not drawing any conclusions from this except, by definition, small world networks are highly interconnected, and most networks around us obey this rule. And, as Barabasi says "Navigating [small world networks] repeatedly tricks our intuition and reminds us that there is a new geometry out there that we need to master in order to make sense of the complex world around us." p. 40

I think there is more to learn from this, and wonder what will that be?

(More information on small world networks can be found in James Lawley's 'Thinking Networks II' (Notes to The Developing Group, June 2004) at: http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/171/1/Thinking-Networks-II/Page1.html)

Corrie van Wijk
07 August 2009, 01:05 PM
'Hi Penny,

You quote in your posting: “In the cat brain, for example, the number of degrees of separation turns out to be between only two and three. The number is identical in the macaque brain” [Nexus, p. 65]."

In the article you refer to James also says:

"This might be expected from brains because: (a) it could be life-threateningly dangerous for a message to need to wander around a brain looking for a connecting pathway; and (b) brains have had millions of years to hone their efficiency."

Has the brain evolved to beat entropy?

Can the brain create order out of chaos and reverse time?

Wouldn't then the goal of clean facilitation be to find a structure in the network?

Would finding a structure help to make sense of the world?

Corrie van Wijk
22 August 2009, 09:24 AM
Martijn van den Heuvel (University of Utrecht) investigated how different areas in the brain communicate. He found that the more direct different areas are connected, the more efficient the brain is organized. Intelligent people don't have more connections than others, but better: the shortest possible travel distance, which probably enables them to integrate information easier.

See: www.umcutrecht.nl/.../The-connected-brain.htm

05 September 2009, 04:19 PM
What is the relationship between the 6 degrees of separation / small world model and the asking of sets of 6 questions in an EK process, apart from that they both use the number 6?

I ask because I get the sense that the former is sometimes referred to in relation to the latter and I wonder at this because they seem different kinds of structure to me.

In small world theory as far as I can tell, the 6 degrees are between 2 persons, both of whom exist already. 2 entities, gestalts that exist per se as nodes in a network that can apparently be shown to reliably show 'sixness' in their relatedness*

In EK (or maybe only in Po6) the 6 questions are stages between before-the-first-question (BTFQ) and after-the-sixth-question (ATSQ). The gestalt of ATSQ emerges into being out of the compound emergent effects of the asking of the 6 questions. What emerges ATSQ will always be linked in a 'six-y' way to BTFQ.

Is there anything about its sixness that makes it more significant than what emerges after the 7th or the 5th or the 193rd question?

Maybe I should wait until I have read Philip and Matthew's book, which I very much look forward to doing. It is the publication of it that has clarified the question I have.


* Are there criteria about the relative validity of links? I mean, does having met Barack Obama's postman have the same valence as knowing Obama's father?

Steve Saunders
14 November 2009, 06:17 PM
There are two aspects of the EK explorations, in what I saw of David's work, and in how he explained it:

1. the 6 degrees of separation between people was equated to 6 degrees of separation between internal pronouns (from the "as within so without" principle).

The social network theory (look at harvard web site for massive info on this) shows 3 degrees of association, and differences at 4+ - showing for example that obesity ran in social networks to 3 degrees but decayed further, into the opposite polarity. I suggested to David that this meant that there were two world views, each with 3 degrees of context.

2. The emergent 6 as David portrayed it, which is indeed a different structure:

1,2 ordinariness
3 philosophical
4 the wobble
5 immolation (the destruction of the old world view)
6 phoenetical (as in the phoenix arising from the ashes)

this pattern related to escaping from one world view and creating a new one. Whereas the first pattern related to navigating between existing world views within a person.

As you know, he and I debated at length on 6+1 versus 7, and I prefer the model of the 7 days of the week.



Steve Saunders
04 January 2010, 09:46 AM
so we have a pattern of 6's where the 4th question has a pause waiting for a second answer - making 7 answers ... an no-one else has questioned this?

there are 7 colours in a rainbow, 7 chakras, 7 days of the week and consistently 7 steps from one pronoun to another (6 steps in between and the 7th question goes directly to the next pronoun) ...

7 celestial bodies visible from the naked eye (planets) - represented by the days of the week ... sun moon mars mercury jupiter venus saturn, and around them are uranus (father of the gods) and neptune (water - feminine) and around them pluto (hades) representing the dead ... it is all there to be seen, if only one looks ... patterns of 7 within a matrix of ancestral male/female manifested projecting.

Has anyone ever wondered why the same side of the moon always faces the sun ... it is solar-focussed not earth-focussed - very odd that in thousands of years there has been no precession at all in this relationship ...

hello ... is anyone out there? ... is anyone awake?

Happy New Year ...


Corrie van Wijk
04 January 2010, 01:02 PM

Whatever you would like to have happen, if it isn't happening right now, remember I already embraced you now.




05 January 2010, 06:12 PM
Moon shows same face to Earth, due to tidal locking - you see, someone was awake!

LOL Happy New Year!

Steve Saunders
05 January 2010, 11:12 PM
Glad at least one person is awake!