*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****

Recently, a message was posted on SOCNET concerning "The Social 
Organization of Conspiracy" (Baker and Faulkner 1993).  Subsequently, the 
sender of this post contacted me via email.  I sent a response to him, but 
since he raised concerns in this public forum, I thought it appropriate to 
post my response.  The relevant portions are reproduced below.
Best wishes,
Wayne Baker

The confusion is caused by a typo in the article, and a little lack of 
clarity on our part.  Otherwise, our measures, analysis, findings, and 
interpretation are correct.  Specifically, here are the answers to the 
issues you raised:

(1) Our definition of closeness (farness) point centrality, Eq. 3, p. 
848.  There is a typo.  The superscript -1 is missing from the equation, 
which, unfortunately, we didn't spot in proof reading.  This is a measure 
of "point decentrality" (Freeman 1979:225), or, as we put it, farness.

(2) Comparisons of point centrality across networks of different sizes.  It 
make sense to standardize measures of point centrality in most cases--but 
not all (Freeman 1979).  In our context, degree centrality has a very 
intuitive meaning:  the number of direct eyewitnesses of ego's 
participation in a price-fixing conspiracy.  In a legal setting, the number 
of direct eyewitnesses (degree centrality) makes more sense than the number 
of direct eyewitnesses relative to the total number of participants 
(relative degree centrality).  A direct eyewitness is a direct eyewitness, 
whether the network has 21 participants (transformers), 24 (turbines), or 
33 (switchgear).  (Indeed, it would be hard to say how a grand jury would 
interpret relative degree centrality.)  By extension, the same logic 
applies to farness and betweenness.  Farness, for example, measures paths 
(geodesics) of direct and indirect eyewitnesses.  So, in our particular 
context, it makes sense to *not* standardize point centrality measures.

(3) For the measure of graph centralization, we used the standardized 
closeness index, according to Eq. 4, p. 850.  We did not use farness.  We 
apparently caused confusion by referring to farness when discussing graph 
centralization (e.g., footnote 8).  We did so to remind the reader that our 
measure of "closeness" point centrality was actually a measure of 
distance.  In this context, it seemed especially important to do so. In 
retrospect, we could have been clearer about this in our article, making 
sure there was no ambiguity about our measures of point centrality and 
graph centralization.

SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
network researchers ( To unsubscribe, send
an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.