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Access Anybody

No matter who you need to know, somebody you know knows somebody who knows that person. A man who studied this small-world phenomenon is the late Stanley Milgram, a psychologist. What he discovered proves that it's possible for you to make contact with just about anyone you wish—because you have friends who have friends who have friends.

Milgram wondered if it would be possible for a package to be passed from a specific, randomly selected person in Omaha to a specific, randomly selected person in Boston using "friends" as the conduits. Milgram defined "friends" as people you know by their first names. He discovered not only that it was possible, but that it took surprisingly few people to make the exchange. It typically took only five or six people for two individuals half a continent apart to make contact through a chain of acquaintances.


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