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Six degrees of separation?

Now this is definitely something that comes under the ‘rubbish’ category but believe me it’s preferable to typing a list of manse defects for the Property Team!

There is a theory, sometimes called the ‘small world theory’ that any two people can be linked together by a chain with five (or in some versions six) intermediaries.  Some experiments allegedly demonstrate this can be achieved, but the success rate is usually quite low.

Then there’s the ‘rare event’ stuff that I used to do as a Probabilistic Risk Assessor.  Sometimes people would say to us that something was incredible – you know the kind of thing, it’s their birthday, their goldfish died and the M6 was grid locked at Junction 21 – and we would give it a quick think over and point out that no, it was actually not that unlikely and that ‘one in a million’ events happen all the time (why else are people daft enough to buy lottery tickets with a 1 in 14 million chance of winning. It’s only because >>14 x 1E6 people buy them that it becomes a frequent event).  Anyway, as the sceptics say there’re lies, accursed lies and statistics - and beyond that there’s PRA (what I used to do).

Lastly there’s the Brian Howden syndrome!  Brian is a dearly loved and wonderful Baptist minister and former tutor at NBC who loves nothing better than to discover connections between people.  Whilst he was my personal tutor we established that his former church secretary had worked for me in industry, he had been ‘senior friend’ to my former minister and that the uncle of my next door neighbour and fellow student had worked for someone who worked for me.  So somewhere the ‘small world theory’ and ‘rare event’ link to Brian’s ‘connectedness.’

All of which leads me to this week's amusing event (I'm easily amused!).  From my favourite online bookstore (Amazon) I bought a second-hand copy of Esther De Waal’s Living with Contradiction.  When I opened it, it had a label identifying its past owner as one Brian Haymes (not Howden, alas) of Bristol Baptist College.  I know that Brian has long since moved on from there but he was once at NBC, so the chain of connections can be discerned if you want to find it!  I did wonder vaguely how many intermediaries there were between Brian Haymes and myself, what the ‘ten to the minus’ as one of my former colleagues would say, might have been, and even how the theme of the book vaguely relates to the concept of inter-relatedness – then I remembered I was meant to be listing defects.  Ah well!

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