Shorty Post — Article in NY Times by Nicholas Christakis


Fog on White Sand Lake, high in the Bitterroot Mountains, Clearwater NF, ID

An interesting article on freshman social networks by Yale researcher, physician and Silliman House director, Nicholas Christakis.

He makes the observation

“In fact, studies that my colleagues and I have conducted of face-to-face social networks of college students and of the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania reveal that, in fundamental ways, they are not very different.”

For readers of this blog, this is, of course, not surprising.  Both Tanzanian hunters and freshman college students are likely to be centered square in the Tribal/Authoritarian v-Meme, and so process relationships and interests in much the same way.

In the piece, he doesn’t mention empathy, but I wrote him a note — I’m hoping he will write back.  As I mentioned before, empathy level dictates information coherence levels in transfers between actors (a phenomenon he alludes to in the piece), with higher forms of empathy possessing more nonlinear aspects of behavior.

Another interesting point of the article is that he notes that when young people are plopped together initially, there is an explosion of friendships (independently generated, trust-based, data-driven relationships!)  But after about three weeks, the effect starts to die down, and then settle back to the externally defined groupings that people in that cohort’s brains are comfortable with.  The takeaway?  Epiphanies without follow-up don’t last.

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