881: Probability

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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My normal approach is useless here, too.
Title text: My normal approach is useless here, too.


As the title text says, my normal approach is useless here.

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 dotted line represents the survival rate distribution: the higher number being centered on about 5 years, in this case with a chance of 81%. 10 years is the limit: the max survival rate expected is 10 years, with a chance of 77%.

Randall posted this blog post two months after posting this strip explaining the cancer strips.


[A plot of years vs. percent, 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%
[Two people are sitting on a bench, next to an IV drip hanging from a rack. One 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.]

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I've been through this, even though it was a little over a year ago, this strip brings me back to how I tried to rationalise the probabilities to deal with the news, and the only thing I could think of was "I want a better number, god, noodle-monster, anybody, please, give me a better number".

John 00:40, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

Can anyone please provide an update to this page on Randall's fiance's health? Apologies if this is common knowledge. I agree with John's reaction. I wanted a better number for my wife back in the spring of 2008, and got it. She survived 3 years instead of the (then) predicted average of six months for inflammatory breast cancer. We could have been just an outlier on the low probability end of the curve, but I like to think the medical community is continually improving their curves, and I am very grateful for the extra time. She passed away four days after this strip was posted - which explains why I haven't seen this strip until now. 21:26, 28 November 2013 (UTC)Grant

So, how is this incomplete? Can we remove the incompleteness mark? -- 13:02, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

I think the linking to the blog post is more sensitive than explaining it here. Remove tag? -- 14:19, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

What is the dashed line? It kind of looks like it might be the derivative of the solid line. 00:39, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I think I explained the dashed line, it's a hazard function or at least it would be a plausible hazard function for that kind of survival function. Feel free to improve the formatting or remove the incomplete tag. --Artod (talk) 07:06, 20 January 2014 (UTC)