Hubs, Contagion, Immunity

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It is conventional wisdom in the scale free networking crowd that highly connected hubs are the key to assuring that everybody is only a few hops away from everybody else. These hubs, ranked by the connectivity, are also at the top of the power-law distribution that is characteristic of scale free networks.

Marketing people know this – if you can get the hubs to recommend your product then your golden. Epidemiologists know this – if you can vacinate the hubs you can slow the spread of the disease.

One aspect of that which I don’t think is well appreciated is that if your a hub you need to have a strong immune system. It’s easy for the marketing guys to target hubs, it’s much harder for them to convince them. It strikes me as obvious that if being a highly social person is geneticly linked then it would be extremely advantagous – from a survial point of view – if that trait was linked to a strong immune system.

So I didn’t find this report surprising. Shyness can be deadly. That holds that shy people have weaker immune systems. I’m peeved by the value judgement there, i.e. that shy is bad. Social is only one of many many attributes that people might specialize in.

Much the same way that a plant pays a high cost having thorns or an exagerated sexual display (in energy that might be expended on other goals for example) I very much doubt that having a strong immune system is a low cost trait for a animal to carry. Same thing for risk adversion.

Meanwhile, I think there some subtle trade off lurking here between attractive and social that I’m having trouble framing up just right. Warning insta-Theory! But I suspect that attractive people then to be shy.

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