Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Extended Mind
May 26, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

The Root of Knowledge - "Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at 'Philosophy.' " (via)

BONUS
posted by kliuless (87 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
oops! forgot a bullet tag :P
posted by kliuless at 8:47 AM on May 26, 2011


Type the name of any article here, and it will trace the steps to 'Philosophy' for you.
posted by cobra libre at 8:47 AM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Christ it works. I just put in "Jenna Jameson" and it took me through the State, Action theory, and Quality of Life to Philosophy.

I still hold that XKCD isn't funny anymore.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:50 AM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, maybe I'm obtuse, but the connection between the notion of "extended mind" and free will isn't clear.

Though I suppose both topics eventually lead back to 'Philosophy'.
posted by cobra libre at 8:50 AM on May 26, 2011


You will eventually:

1) End up at Philosophy
2) End up in an infinite cycle (page 1 links to page 2 links to page 3 ... page N links to page 1)
3) End up at a page with no links.

I believe this is provably true.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:51 AM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Works for Cheri Oteri.

Seems like an infinite monkeys trick though.
posted by scrowdid at 8:53 AM on May 26, 2011


Kevin_Bacon
Animal_House
Comedy_film
Film
Recording
Process
Milk
Mammary_gland
Organ_(anatomy)
Biology
Natural_science
Science
Knowledge
Fact
Information
Sequence
Mathematics
Quantity
Property_(philosophy)
Modern_philosophy
Philosophy
posted by schyler523 at 8:54 AM on May 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


I know wikipedia has an official record with something in the 30s, but my personal best is 26 steps with Max Thorek.
posted by phunniemee at 8:54 AM on May 26, 2011


Not if new articles are added at a rate faster than you're going through them. Given fancruft, that may be possible.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:54 AM on May 26, 2011


I did this yesterday. Pretty neat.
posted by brundlefly at 8:55 AM on May 26, 2011


That's a lot of fun.
posted by OmieWise at 8:56 AM on May 26, 2011


tylerkaraszweski: once you get to "philosophy" you do cycle, back to "philosophy" eventually. (People have actually been editing the articles in that cycle, though.) At one point it went "philosophy", "reason", "rationality", "philosophy". At some point yesterday someone edited the "rationality" article to make the cycle longer.

As it turns out, the cycle that contains "philosophy" right now includes "mathematics". I originally heard this as "if you keep clicking, you'll get to mathematics eventually", but I know lots of mathematicians.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:57 AM on May 26, 2011


metafilter
Weblog
Website
Web_page
Document
Non-fiction
Narrative
Latin
Italic_language
Indo-European_languages
Language_family
Language
Human
Precambrian
Eon_(geology)
Chronology
Time
Measurement
Magnitude_(mathematics)
Property_(philosophy)
Modern_philosophy
Philosophy
21 steps to philosophy
posted by unSane at 8:58 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Once you get to Science, it's direct to Philosophy.
More interestingly, what roads are there to Philosophy that don't end with Science->Knowledge->Fact......Modern_philosophy->Philosophy
posted by scrowdid at 8:58 AM on May 26, 2011


I can't remember where I started, but yesterday I found a path that ended in loop with Legal system and Civil law (legal system). Of course, now that I've pointed it out, I'm sure someone will "fix" this.


You will eventually:

1) End up at Philosophy
2) End up in an infinite cycle (page 1 links to page 2 links to page 3 ... page N links to page 1)
3) End up at a page with no links.

I believe this is provably true.

This is true even without 1, by virtue of the fact that there are finitely many Wikipedia articles.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 8:58 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I believe this is provably true.

Well, it's true a priori, isn't it? If it doesn't loop and it doesn't end, it will eventually reach every article, of which philosophy is one.
posted by Nomiconic at 8:58 AM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


When I first checked it, Minecraft got stuck in a loop on "mathematics" and "quantity". Which, apparently, triggered an editwar as people kept on adding and removing a link on the word "property"...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:01 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, (1) is just an arbitrary stopping point, and is actually a sub-case of (2).

I wonder what the numbers of articles are that are x steps away from Philosophy using this methodology. Like is the tree broad, or does it funnel down quickly into basic concepts which tend to link back to Philosophy at some point.
posted by smackfu at 9:01 AM on May 26, 2011


Ah, that webpage puts side boxes as "first". I don't think it's intended.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:02 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Got there from 'Knuckles the Echidna' in under a minute. Pretty deep.
posted by RokkitNite at 9:02 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded somewhat of the Collatz Conjecture. Just keep on trucking with it and eventually, you always get to the same place. No loops there though, so all around it's a prettier trick, I think.
posted by Nomiconic at 9:05 AM on May 26, 2011


"Jimmy Fallon" only takes 13 steps. Ergo, Jimmy Fallon is closer to philosophy than MetaFilter.
posted by naoko at 9:05 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Started with the game show Queen for a Day, ended up pretty quickly in a 2-loop between transmission (telecommunications) and telecommunications. That's ignoring disambiguation links, of course.

I'll posit that almost any tv show will do the same.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:07 AM on May 26, 2011


is the tree broad, or does it funnel down quickly into basic concepts which tend to link back to Philosophy at some point.

So far I've found two separate entry roads to Philosophy, through Science and Community... wondering what other broad disciplines funnel into Philosophy without stopping at either of those
posted by scrowdid at 9:07 AM on May 26, 2011


This is really just a special case of the more general rule: Any sophomore BS session will end at "but how can you prove ANYTHING, man?"
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the first link is to Wiktionary, and not Wikipedia, do I win?
posted by czytm at 9:08 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded somewhat of the Collatz Conjecture. Just keep on trucking with it and eventually, you always get to the same place.

Prove it and the ghost of Paul Erdõs will give you $500.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 9:09 AM on May 26, 2011


Picking Philosophy as the endpoint is arbitrary, of course, unless Philosophy leads to itself, which right now it doesn't. It's changed today due to all the fun, but as of yesterday morning, it went Philosophy -> something -> something -> Alzheimer's Disease -> dementia.
posted by gurple at 9:11 AM on May 26, 2011


Prove it and the ghost of Paul Erdõs will give you $500.

More importantly, will he coauthor a paper with me?
posted by Nomiconic at 9:11 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Philosophy is just a noisy stop on the way to the actual root of knowledge: Organism.
posted by swift at 9:12 AM on May 26, 2011


More importantly, will he coauthor a paper with me?

Only if you can promise to get him a part in a movie starring Kevin Bacon.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's now an edit war in Trace_Fossil with some people trying to remove the Fossil -> Trace_Fossil -> Fossil loop since it breaks the rule. See this edit and onwards.
posted by Slogby at 9:18 AM on May 26, 2011


When I was 9 years old, my parents took me to see the movie When Harry Met Sally in the theater. They tried not to be too embarrassed afterwards when I would tell people how much I loved the "organism scene."

Philosophy is just a noisy stop on the way to the actual root of knowledge: Organism.

Yes, I agree.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 9:22 AM on May 26, 2011


The XKCD thing is wrong. I went with "Magic: The Gathering" and here's what it gave me:

Magic:_The_Gathering

1. Collectible_card_game
2. Playing_card
3. Paper
4. Writing
5. Language
6. Human
7. Precambrian
8. Eon_(geology)
9. Chronology
10. Time
11. Measurement
12. Magnitude_(mathematics)
13. Property_(philosophy)
14. Modern_philosophy
15. Philosophy


But when I got to Human by doing it manually, the first link was "taxonomically," not "Precambrian." Not sure what's going wrong here.
posted by Slinga at 9:27 AM on May 26, 2011


So right now, the 'master' loop is: Biology; Natural_science; Science; Knowledge; Fact; Information; Sequence; Mathematics; Quantity; Property_(philosophy); Modern_philosophy; Philosophy; existence; senses; organisms

You could argue that only all of these combined count as fundamental to our world view. But on the other hand the whole list approximates fairly well to a combination of metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. If it covered ethics/aesthetics as well it would capture a pretty standard undergrad course in philosophy (and none of those other subjects mentioned could claim that).

Anyway, if you were to fully understand all of those topics in the loop, you'd have a pretty good grip on the whole shebang.
posted by leibniz at 9:29 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Wikipedia thing is amusing, I guess, but what does this "bonus" section have to do with it? I'm confused as to what makes this a coherent post beyond all being vaguely philosophy related.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:31 AM on May 26, 2011


But when I got to Human by doing it manually, the first link was "taxonomically," not "Precambrian."

Me, too, but I still got to Philosophy through Taxonomy, eventually.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:40 AM on May 26, 2011


Philosophy is just a noisy stop on the way to the actual root of knowledge: Organism.

Amateur philosophy eventually descends into onanism.
posted by atrazine at 9:43 AM on May 26, 2011


Am I the only person who plays games with wikipedia?
Like, pick a person, place, or thing (Catherine of Aragon, Tierra del Fuego, or kimchee) then guess how long it ill take you to get to that article on wikipedia by going to "random article" and then only using the links in that random article & subsequent ones
posted by pointystick at 9:55 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another way to put it is that we forever stuck in a loop of understanding.

You can't understand scientific method unless you understand epistemology, and you can't understand epistemology unless you understand logic, and you can't understand logic unless you understand the fundamentals of existence, and you can't those unless you understand the mind, and you can't understand the mind unless you understand the life it is embedded in, and you can't understand what life is unless you understand the sciences of life, but you can't understand life sciences unless you understand scientific method.

Note however that you don't need to understand religion, or morality or Justin Bieber.
posted by leibniz at 9:55 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The XKCD page doesn't follow its own precepts. I started with He-Man, and XKCD went from Hero (heroic) to Ancient Greek, which is clearly in parentheses. Gotta click Greek Mythology, yo.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:58 AM on May 26, 2011


So far I've found two separate entry roads to Philosophy, through Science and Community... wondering what other broad disciplines funnel into Philosophy without stopping at either of those.

What's kind of amusing is that the chains for some actual philosophers go through these routes as well: I suspect this is just a function of the English language — if someone is, say, a "German philosopher", the protocol takes you to "German" rather than "philosopher".
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:05 AM on May 26, 2011


Amateur philosophy eventually descends into onanism.

gosh, I always thought it was an ascent
posted by serif at 10:07 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


That XKCD comic really bothers me because his advice to mike1979 is so useless. Oh, your gaps might be off, there's a tool with a name that checks it and it has a huge range of possibilities. Thank you so much. That's not IQ, that's trivia. Check your gaps? Useful. The rest? Noise from someone trying to sound like the know more than they do.
posted by aspo at 10:08 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could this have to do with article writing conventions?

Most of the time an encyclopedia article starts by trying to place the subject in a context. The idiomatic way to do this is to mention the narrowest of the significant larger categories to which it belongs. This being the case, you will be shuffled into more and more general contexts (modulo some non-categorizing links, which will still tend to link to something more general than the subject of the article).

If every article is linking to something more general than itself, than the sequence will of course lead to the most general category - philosophy (and as someone pointed out, that leads to the even more general mathematics).

Even with articles not written in this style, the more general an article is, the more it will be linked to (because it will more often be relevant) I would not be surprised if the graph of links had bigger and bigger clusters as subjects get more general, looking like a huge bush with mathematics and philosophy in the center.
posted by idiopath at 10:16 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine goes to MIT, he says he made a crack about taking Viagra before a TSA patdown while Randall Munroe was in the room- and then the next day this appeared on XKCD.
He's pretty suspicious.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:19 AM on May 26, 2011


started with Masturbation: (in reverse order)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_philosophy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_(philosophy)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Result
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interacting
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_of_study
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_(polity)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_state
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greeks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physiology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stimulus_(physiology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stimulation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_stimulation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masturbation
posted by marienbad at 10:20 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It does seem to have something to do with the conventions of writing articles. The French wikipedia doesn't seem to have quite as strong conventions as the English wikipedia for "how articles should start", and here are some results. Starting at Vauluisant I got a long loop (a couple dozen articles, I stopped taking notes) starting at Commune (France). Starting at Gnojnice (a Serbian town) I end up in a two-element loop: Serbe cyrillique and its inventor Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. Starting at Aéroport international de Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky I end up in a two-element loop: transport, véhicule. Théodore Ascidas ends up at the same long loop I mentioned before, which also includes signe (i. e. "sign"). Capucin bec-de-plomb (a bird) ends up in a three-element cycle Droit (law), Règle de droit (rule of law), loi (law again, but it's a different article), droit.

There's still a tendency to end up at "more general" articles than where you started but a French analogue of xkcd wouldn't be able to make this work.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:21 AM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


madcaptenor: wow, thanks for checking that out.

I bet someone could do a cybernetic analysis of the epistemelogical infrastructure of various cultures based on the loops and/or morphology of their language's wikipedia links.

That could be an excuse to brush up on graph theory...
posted by idiopath at 10:30 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Spanish wikipedia, on the other hand, does seem to have this property. And you do end up at the article "Filosofía". I'm not trying this out in any other languages because there aren't any other languages I know well enough for this to be interesting to me.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:34 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are some crossroads... if you end up at "America/USA" which is common enough, you have 14 clicks to Philosophy

It takes 12 to get from "State" to "Philosophy"

getting to any academic filed will eventually lead you down the chain as well. Took me ~19 to get from "rattlesnake" to "Philosophy", about the same for Tom Waits.



("garbage" will result in a loop between landmass and continents)

It only takes 5 to get from Wikipedia to philosophy
posted by edgeways at 10:37 AM on May 26, 2011


Yes, it's not really a mystery. The convention for a Wikipedia article on X is:

X is a [link to supercategory of which X is an instance]

so you are basically just crawling up the tree of categories, becoming more and more general, until you get to the some category so general it's a topic in philosophy, at which point stop.
posted by unSane at 10:39 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Philosophy to Philosophy took 15 steps... as of right now
posted by manny_calavera at 10:46 AM on May 26, 2011


Between penis and philosophy, there are thirteen steps.
- Kwai Chang Kaine

I may put that into the fortune file, just for the hell of it.
posted by jquinby at 10:49 AM on May 26, 2011


But when I got to Human by doing it manually, the first link was "taxonomically," not "Precambrian."

I think that site treats links in the sidebar on the right side as being the first links of the page rather than the ones at the start of the article.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:54 AM on May 26, 2011


Never got anything beyond 21 hops. Did wind up landing on a loop with Road, Highway and Thoroughfare.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:05 AM on May 26, 2011


Rohan > JRR Tolkien > Order of the British Empire > Chivalric order > Knight > Warrior > Combat > Violence > Psychological manipulation > Social influence > Conformity > Unconscious mind > German philosophy > Philosophy

I thought it was headed off into a long tangent when I clicked the word "German" in the article for "Unconscious mind", but it linked to "German philosophy" and I knew I had been undone.
posted by grubi at 11:05 AM on May 26, 2011


Never got anything beyond 21 hops.

It took me a while to find something that did, but when I did, it seemed tremendously fitting.

Randy_Savage

1. Ring_name
2. Stage_name
3. Pseudonym
4. Name
5. Noun
6. George_Washington
7. United_States_of_America
8. Federalism
9. Political
10. Group_decision_making
11. Individuals
12. Person
13. Human_being
14. Precambrian
15. Eon_(geology)
16. Chronology
17. Time
18. Measurement
19. Magnitude_(mathematics)
20. Property_(philosophy)
21. Modern_philosophy
22. Philosophy

Now that is a flying elbowdrop on the entire internet right there I tell you what.
posted by mightygodking at 11:12 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a fun game. Easy to play, cheap as fuck, and in the end, we all win. Lose? I dunno.
posted by grubi at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2011


My very first try, I got 26:

Ghostbusters II
Science fiction film
Film genre
Film theory
Critical theory
Critique
method
Ancient Greek
Greek language
Greeks
Nation
Sovereign state
State (polity)
Social sciences
List of academic disciplines
Academia
Community
Interaction
Effect
Result
Sequence
Mathematics
Quantity
Property (philosophy)
Modern philosophy
Philosophy
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to edit "property"... to fix the supposed superiority of philosophy, but apparently this meme has resulted in a big lame edit war.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:17 AM on May 26, 2011


It seems to work okay in the German Wikipedia, based on a few random articles I tried it with. A common terminal pattern is Wissenschaft->Wissen->Wahrheit->Wirklichkeit->Seinsmodus->Philosophie. Or, in English, Science->Knowledge->Truth->Reality->Being->Philosophy.
posted by jedicus at 11:22 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


27

Ice_climbing
Climbing
Bouldering
Rock_climbing
Sport
Organized
Social_group
Social_cohesion
Social_policy
Quality_of_life
International_development
Foreign_aid
International_relations
Sovereign_state
State_(polity)
Social_sciences
Field_of_study
Academia
Community
Interacting
Effect
Result
Sequence
Mathematics
Quantity
Property_(philosophy)
Modern_philosophy
Philosophy
posted by zephyr_words at 11:36 AM on May 26, 2011


Based on a quick trip through the Greek Wikipedia that ended me up in a long loop from countries through precipitation, astronomy, Homer, the 12th century AD, Theobald II of Champagne, France, and back around to countries, I think the limiting factor in non-English Wikipedias is how many words they link. If you're linking as many words as the English version, those words are going to break down into very basic categories relatively quickly, but if you're only linking proper nouns, it's likely that you're going to end up taking some weird turns.
posted by Copronymus at 11:38 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: 21 Steps To Philosophy
posted by ShutterBun at 11:40 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. The answer to the question of "What Wikipedia entry takes more than 21 hops to get to philosophy actually is "Ghostbusters II." That's excellent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


NHL takes 36 steps.

NHL
Ice_hockey
Team_sport
Sport
Organized
Social_group
Social_cohesion
Social_policy
Quality_of_life
International_development
Foreign_aid
International_relations
Sovereign_state
State_(polity)
Social_sciences
Field_of_study
Academia
Community
Interacting
Causal
Objects
Object_(philosophy)
Latin
Italic_language
Indo-European_languages
Language_family
Language
Human
Precambrian
Eon_(geology)
Chronology
Time
Measurement
Magnitude_(mathematics)
Property_(philosophy)
Modern_philosophy
Philosophy

36 steps to philosophy


Go Canucks
posted by jeather at 12:09 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


philosophy

Existence
Sense
Organism
Biology
Natural_science
Science
Knowledge
Fact
Information
Sequence
Mathematics
Quantity
Property_(philosophy)
Modern_philosophy
Philosophy
15 steps to philosophy!
posted by biochemist at 12:46 PM on May 26, 2011


Zinc protopophyrin only took 27.....
posted by bjgeiger at 12:51 PM on May 26, 2011


Damn the NHL! I was winning with "Variometer" at 29 steps.
posted by phliar at 1:00 PM on May 26, 2011


Shit be described in terms more general than the shit being described.

Philosophy be a very general term for describing and categorizing shit.

This ain't no surprise, Clyde.
posted by orthogonality at 1:13 PM on May 26, 2011


so you are basically just crawling up the tree of categories, becoming more and more general, until you get to the some category so general it's a topic in philosophy, at which point stop.

This really makes the exceptions stick out. I had to click to see what was up with schyler523's steps from process -> milk.
posted by CaseyB at 1:14 PM on May 26, 2011


I'd just like to point out for the record that all Wikipedia articles actually end up at panpsychism.
posted by CaseyB at 1:19 PM on May 26, 2011


Nineteen links from "terasi" (a kind of shrimp paste) to "philosophy," but had to go through "earth," "planet" and "mathematics" to get there. (Terasi is popular in Indonesia. which is in South East Asia, which gets you to planet.)

I tried this with the same word on Indonesian Wikipedia. I get: "terasi" > "fish" > "phylum" > "Ancient Greek" > "Indo-European Languages" > "language." It then gets stuck in a loop, "language" > "phoneme" > "linguistics" > "language." This happens with every article I tried on Indonesian Wikipedia, including philosophy. Ultimately it's all about language, which is made of sound, and you ain't getting no further.

You can try this if you want, even if you don't understand the language at all. Just go here (main page), click on "Halaman sembarang," eventually you'll end up here and back there again very quickly.

This isn't actually very different from what happens in English, minus the loop at "language." Eventually, an article will start off with an etymology, which will take to you "language," which will take you, on English Wikipedia, via a round-about but predictable course to "philosophy." Or an article will use a mathematical term, which will take you to "mathematics" which will also take you to "philosophy."
posted by nangar at 1:27 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cheese on Toast is only sixteen steps. Cheese on toast > Cheese > Food > Plant > Living > Objects > Physics > Natural Science > Science > Knowledge > Facts > Information > Sequence > Mathematics > Quantity > Property > Philosophy
posted by hot soup girl at 4:09 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


taxi cab took me 35 steps:

taxi_cab
vehicle_for_hire
vehicle
bicycle
human-powered_transport
transport
cargo
commerce
peddler
british_english
english_language
west_germanic_languages
germanic_languages
indo-european_languages
language_family
language
human
precambrian
history_of_earth
planet
ancient_greek
greek_language
albania
balkans
europe
list_of_continents_by_population
landmass
landform
earth_sciences
science
mathematics
quantity
property_(philosophy)
modern_philosophy
philosophy

I was selecting terms based on random words my toddler was saying. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:51 PM on May 26, 2011


I agree with the theory that this has to do with Wikipedia style and the practice of starting articles "X is a Y." If you click on the LAST word (before any "See also..." stuff) the behavior is quite different. Starting from "graph theory," I travelled through about a dozen math pages before escaping into a charming and rather varied chain of links, probably about a dozen more before I got stuck in a loop between Boris Johnson and Maurizo Gaudino, a soccer player whom Johnson apparently headbutted at some point.
posted by escabeche at 8:57 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, you might be interested to hear that if there are N pages and each page links to a randomly selected other page (obivously not really the case here) then typically on order of the square root of N pages are contained in cycles, and the number of cycles is about (1/2) log N.
posted by escabeche at 8:59 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metal umlauts
Trema
Diacritic
Glyph
Grapheme
Written Language
Symbolic System
Psychology
Science
Knowledge
Facts
Information
Sequence
Mathematics
Quantity
Property (Philosophy)
Modern Philosophy
Philosophy.

Only eighteen from Metal umlauts? Goddamn, that was quick.
posted by msali at 9:20 PM on May 26, 2011


Someone went to the trouble of actually testing this out; 93.39% of pages lead to philosophy.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:19 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jurassic Park got me 31
jurassic_park
jurassic_park_(novel)
jurassic_park_iii
central_american
spanish_language
romance_languages
indo-european_languages
language_family
language
human
precambrian
history_of_earth
planet
ancient_greek
greek_language
albania
balkans
europe
list_of_continents_by_population
landmass
land
earth
volume
si_derived_unit
international_system_of_units
metric_system
tape_measure
keychain_fob
key_(lock)
lock_(device)
electronic
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 8:49 PM on May 27, 2011


My 36 seems a lot less impressive now that I know the maximum is 727 steps.

I'd love to see a graph of number of pages vs number of steps.
posted by jeather at 5:08 AM on May 28, 2011


Wikipedia has an article on Wikipedia:Get to Philosophy.

The article doesn't mention "List of state leaders," but it is mentioned in the discussion.

"Philosophy" is part of a fairly long loop that includes "Science," "Knowledge," "Facts," "Sequence," "Mathematics," "Quantity," "Existence," "Sense." I think we could call this the Information is Information Loop.

In February 2011, "Philosophy" was reported to be out of the loop, but at this point it did include "Culture," "Politics," "Alfred Kroeber" and "Limerence." I think more accurately "Science" and "Culture" were part of a different loop than "Philosophy," "Sequence" and "Mathemetics." They've been reunited now,

The article includes a list of loops. Most have been fixed.

A couple tidbits:
... any article about a person will get to Philosophy in 10 or 11 links, because the first link in nearly everyone's biography is their birth date, and the first link in any article about a day will be Leap year, or Gregorian calendar, both of which arrive shortly at Calendar. The chain then goes quickly through Time and Religion ...

Many (but not all) articles about pornographic actresses will result in the loop Recording → Data storage device

posted by nangar at 7:05 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The maximum number of steps is not 727. All the "State leaders in [year]" articles start with a link to the preceding year. The first missing year working backwards from the current year is 111 B.C. The first working link takes you to "Events of 110" and then via "Roman calendar," "Rome," "State," "Social Science," "Knowledge" into the Science-Philosophy-Information loop.

Assuming all the "State leaders in" are formated consistently, it should be possible to get chains of 2200 +. (If an article in the "leaders" sequence is formated incorrectly, it's likely to get fixed.)
posted by nangar at 8:34 AM on May 28, 2011


2200 + = 2120 +
posted by nangar at 8:44 AM on May 28, 2011


All roads lead to Sequence, Mathematics, Quantity.
posted by oxford blue at 2:08 AM on May 31, 2011


Counterexample (as of this posting): the two-loop Gillis Schagen/Peter Cornelisz Verbeeck. (I am assuming red links are also excluded.)

Given the cited statistic that about 6% of articles do not lead to Philosophy, I surmised that it would take a relatively small number of clicks on "Random article" to find one that did not.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:25 PM on May 31, 2011


« Older VLT (Very Large Telescope) HD Timelapse Footage (8...  |  Last night, in a 7-6 loss to t... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments