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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


We all know about the six-degrees-of-separation idea, brilliantly exemplified by social networking websites like Friendster, but people often forget to go to the next level: to consider that for every person you've had sex with, you've got second, third, fourth, etc. degrees of hooking up. A new study examined these relationships in a Midwestern US high school, and found as many as 288 students directly linked in this fashion. Getting kids to think in these terms might help them understand the importance of safe sex.

I emphasize might, but I do suspect it'll have some effect: in college, my groups of friends periodically made our own "hook-up charts," the most detailed of which was the one done at the beginning of senior year in my off-campus house. There were 8 of us living there, and as I recall, about 6 of us had, in some combination, hooked up with another member of the household. Then we moved out of the house - current and ex boy/girlfriends, random hook-ups, etc. One mildly disturbing result was learning that I'm about four degrees from Justin Timberlake, prompting me to pay an immediate visit to the student health service for a full battery of tests (all clear!).

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