Title text: My normal approach is useless here, too.
Cueball and Megan are sitting on a hospital bed, reading a piece of paper with the statistics for breast cancer survival. It looks like Megan has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The thick line represents the survival rate distribution (probability to be alive after X years, unconditioned): 81% are alive at 5 years, while 77% survive to 10 years. The dashed line represents the hazard function (the negative derivative of the thick line divided by the value of the thick line at each point, i.e. how fast the thick line falls with respect to the current value, or the risk of failing/dying at time t+Δt after having survived until time t as Δt approches zero), which is the rate between the density of the failure distribution and the survival function.
The title text could be a reference to the comic 55: Useless. Cueball's (and Randall's) normal approach — math — isn't much help in dealing with this emotional situation, either. The phrase "normal approach" may also in this case be a pun on the Normal distribution, which is another probability distribution that is commonly used in statistics. Interpreted this way, the title text states that the "Normal distribution" is not used as a hazard function.
- [A plot of percent vs. years, with a solid and a dashed line. The solid line starts at 100%, and drops constantly. The dashed line starts around 85%, rises to 95% after 5 years, then drops.]
- [A simple table.]
5 years 81% 10 years 77%
- [Cueball and Megan are sitting on a bench, next to an Intravenous drip hanging from a rack. Cueball is holding a paper.]
- Cueball: You know, probability used to be my favorite branch of math
- Cueball: Because it had so many real-life applications.
- [They embrace, faces together.]