A note on small world theory

So I’m in England for my parents’ 80 th birthday bash. Lovely time had by all etc.

And last night I was having a pint with the pub landlord/landlady I used to work for. And in walks someone who used to work at the same pub at the same time. Who now lives in the US and is the head honcho sales manager for a publisher.

Of the, among other things, economics textbooks of Tyler Cowen/Alex Tabarrok, Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw.

No, not how weird is that, given what I now write about. But just an illustration of that small world theory thing.

Well, I thought it was interesting anyway.

9 comments on “A note on small world theory

  1. I dated two girls, one while I was in high school in NZ, one in my mid 20s in Perth. Both of them grew up in those locations and have never lived elsewhere. They were both irritating in the same way and I ditched them both in the same way. Found out not long ago that they’re Facebook friends, despite being 8 years and 5 timezones apart.

    I’d love to ask how but neither of them are on speaking terms with me…

  2. Landlord in rural pub works in the same place for thirty years. How amazing is that? Well, maybe not so amazing, as he has returning customers.

  3. House opposite ours was converted from a pub to a home by some Londoners (I live in the far desolate reaches of the North West, West Yorkshire) last year. Was speaking with my parents about the conversion work when they said that they knew the people who had bought and renovated the place. But then my parent’s circles of friends is massive, so not all that surprising that someone my parent’s know of lives in the same town as me, it’s just the living opposite that is surprising.

  4. In 1980, 8 years after leaving school and moving away from the area, I was posted to the Zimbabwe School of Signals in Bulawayo to help integrate the various factions. On the first weekend I went to the Holiday Inn and I found myself stood at the bar next to an old female school friend.

  5. There is a niche area of probability theory (not my niche but I read an article about it) about different levels of coincidence. Yours is one that certainly is surprising (whereas just meeting a friend in the pub would not be surprising) that it happens to you but not that it should happen to someone: I think that’s level 2. Although bif has a point – if it’s a good pub then guys will drop in when they come home from foreign parts and the landlord is likely to stay a long time.

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