Friendship Paradox

“Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You” is a 1991 paper from Scott Feld published in the American Journal of Sociology. It now has some claim to fame for introducing into popular culture the so-called “friendship paradox,” which researchers have used to detect the early onset of contagious outbreaks and design effective vaccination strategies. New research, published in the Journal of Complex Networks, suggests the paradox is more nuanced than Feld figured it to be. … So now we have a paradox of paradoxes; the friendship paradox is true mathematically, but very often has no practical consequence due to the Bill Gates effect. What should you do if you are worried about your popularity? Relax. Despite what Facebook tells us, it’s the quality of friendships that count, not the quantity, and certainly not your average popularity. Enjoy your time with whatever friends you have. And if you see Bill Gates, tell him to call me.

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