|OUR SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
October through December of 2006, we tested the
Six Degrees of Separation Hypothesis. You are
invited to read about the experiment below
WHAT WAS THE EXPERIMENT ABOUT?
We attempted to validate the Six Degrees of
Separation hypothesis that any two people on the
planet are connected through a chain of
intermediaries numbering no more than five
To do this we e-mailed individuals in the
electronic address book of one of our authors, DL
Tolleson. We asked these individuals to forward
our e-mail to people with whom they were
acquainted and who they thought were likely to
personally know any of the target people
identified in our e-mail. The
friends/acquaintances receiving those forwarded
e-mail messages were to do the same, and so on,
until the message was delivered to the target
people. (Read more about the Six Degrees of
Separation Hypothesis in the Wikipedia
Encyclopedia link situated to your right on this
Successful chains of acquaintances numbering five
to nine intermediaries were to receive free
copies of Tolleson's novel, The Gray Stopgap
and Stuart Tower's The Wayfarers.
TRYING TO PROVE A POINT
So, how did our experiment come about?
Well, Tolleson's novel, The Gray Stopgap,
had garnered three Barnes & Noble staff
recommendations and occasional inquiries from
Hollywood. This was the topic in a casual e-mail
correspondence between our publisher and Tolleson
when the legitimacy of the Six Degrees of
Separation hypothesis came up.
In closing, our publisher scoffed at the
hypothesis that alleged any two people were
linked through a chain of five acquaintances.
"If that were the case," our publisher
wrote, "your book and name should be
household words by now. But not even our Steven
Spielberg endorsed novel, The Wayfarers,
by Stuart Tower, has obtained that sort of fame.
And thus the experiment.
WHO WERE THE TARGET PEOPLE?
There were five target people originally
listed only in the e-mail initially sent. These
target people were:
As of this writing he has acted in roughly 40
movies, produced 12 (some with his friend
Affleck) and has two writing credits. Unless
you've lived under a rock, you've seen this guy.
We liked him and his work.
Similar to the movie Jerry Maguire,
Ms. Dart started the Dart Group three weeks after
being dumped by Pat Kingsley from the Hollywood
super PR firm PMK/HBH. Within a year she formed
alliances with studio expert Amanda Lundberg,
Miramax Oscar winner Cynthia Swartz, and PMK's
Robert Garlock. This partnership attracted a
client list that included some of New York's
biggest movie institutions: Martin Scorsese,
Woody Allen, Jonathan Demme, Mike Nichols, Sydney
Pollack, Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Meryl Streep,
and Ron Howard. We were impressed and liked
Lead fiction buyer for Barnes & Noble (out
of New York). Reportedly, Hensley decides the
fates of many books through promotion and
advertising. Hensley's word allegedly carries the
kind of weight that can alter the course of
obscurity. Sara Nelson, the editor-in-chief of Publishers
Weekly described Hensley as, "being
right up there with Oprah."
A, "power broker," who parlayed his
insurance/estate planning business into a billion
dollar empire and is now retired in Boca Raton.
He is involved in myriad projects and reportedly
has far reaching influences in the business world
Producer, Writer, Director, Composer. One of
the executive producers of the TV series, Six
Degrees, as well as executive producer of
the TV series Lost and Alias.
After reportedly shutting down the original
production of Mission Impossible III,
Tom Cruise later brought in Abrams who helped
re-write, produce and direct the movie. Given the
name of our experiment, Abrams connection to the
show Six Degrees seemed kind of
Our server logs indicated light interest even
though we received confirmation that the messages
were forwarded in large numbers. At one point
during the experiment we suffered an unrelated
server issue and were intermittently on-line
during a four-day period while losing 8 days of
However, no chain of intermediaries linked our
author to a target person and we were unable to
validate the Six Degrees of Separation
To the hundreds, possibly thousands, who
participated in our experiment we express our