2620: Health Data

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Health Data
Donate now to help us find a cure for causality. No one should have to suffer through events because of other events.
Title text: Donate now to help us find a cure for causality. No one should have to suffer through events because of other events.


Cueball is at Doctor Ponytail's office receiving examination or test results, but her statements are frustratingly generic, and entirely useless. She says that his "numbers" have revealed many "measurements" and "variables" but doesn't specify what they, or their values, are. The number of measurements observed is simply a product of how many have been taken, and not of Cueball's specific condition. In response to being asked whether that is bad, she ominously says that variables are the number one risk of "outcomes." This is unhelpful, since every outcome is the product of some set of variables. Additionally, outcomes can be good, bad, or neutral, so it does not address the question. Doctor Ponytail further states that the past is "a big contributor to" the future, a similarly uninformative statement, as Cueball implies by asking whether that is just causality. The doctor replies that causality is the leading cause of death, which is so tautological as to be meaningless.

Cueball tries to cut to the root of the issue by asking his chances of survival. Ponytail asks whether Cueball has a family history, but rather than asking for a history of specific illnesses, she is merely asking whether he has any family history at all. Her apparent concern on discovering that he does is presumably due to the fact that everyone who has a family history dies, and therefore she sees this as negative. However, this is not medically informative, since everyone has some kind of family history (whether they personally know anything of it or not) and everyone eventually dies.[citation needed]

The comic is likely a comment on the impenetrability of some medical diagnoses, where high levels of jargon and non-contextualized statistics, combined with a lot of hedging language, can leave patients none the wiser about their prospects or the relative merits of various courses of treatment. Similarly, it could be reflecting on the effects of availability bias and the base rate fallacy when medical practitioners are deriving diagnoses, treatment options, and similar conclusions from medical records designed to highlight the information necessary to diagnose specific well-understood illnesses. It may also be making fun of poorly defined health statistics: statistics for the leading causes of accidental death in the United States, for example, typically cite 'poisoning' as the number one cause, even though poisoning other than drug overdoses is actually quite rare. The comic takes vague statistics to the extreme, citing 'causality' as the leading cause of death. An alternate explanation is the comic is pointing out that the sicker a person is, the more tests are run. Ergo, a model for predicting death is the number of tests or measurements.

The title text continues the joke, suggesting that researchers are searching for a cure for causality, which is absurd and inconceivable.

The comic as a whole is reminiscent of 830: Genetic Analysis and 1840: Genetic Testing Results (particularly the title text of the latter), as the information given by the doctor in all three is self-evident and useless as a result.


[Cueball and Doctor Ponytail are talking to each other. Cueball is sitting on an examination table and Doctor Ponytail, in a doctor's coat, is looking down and reading from a clipboard with some illegible writing on it.]
Doctor Ponytail: I'm taking a look at your numbers, and it doesn't look good.
Doctor Ponytail: You have a lot of measurements. Quite a few variables.
[Same setting but Doctor Ponytail looks up at Cueball.]
Cueball: Is that... bad?
Doctor Ponytail: Variables are the #1 risk factor for outcomes.
Doctor Ponytail: The past is a big contributor to the future.
[Same setting but Doctor Ponytail puts her arm with the clipboard down.]
Cueball: Isn't that just causality?
Doctor Ponytail: Causality is the leading cause of death in this country.
[Same setting.]
Cueball: So what are my odds?
Doctor Ponytail: Do you have a family history?
Cueball: Of what?
Doctor Ponytail: Just, in general.
Cueball: ...Yes?
Doctor Ponytail: Oh no.

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Did a basefor the setup108.162.246.34 23:51, 16 May 2022 (UTC)a

"Cure for Causality" sounds like a pretty good band name. 07:13, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Panel 1 reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my docs. I'd had some blood work done and the doc said, "The numbers look good. For a man your age." I mean, really; for a man my age? I didn't think we'd been talking about some teenager . . . . 08:40, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Yeah, but it's possibly even worse when a gynacologist says those exact words... ;) 11:23, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Is poisoning other than drug overdoses that rare? The linked source states: "1. Poisoning Due in large part to the opioid epidemic, poisoning has overtaken car crashes as the country’s leading cause of accidental death, with 64,795 poisoning deaths in 2017, 22,000 of them from opioid painkillers. Additionally, people can be poisoned by common household substances, including:

Carbon monoxide Pesticides and cleaning products Lead"

even without the 22,000 opoid painkiller deaths posioning would still be number 09:25, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Yeah, I've re-checked that source and it doesn't actually seem that accurate in its numbers. I've replaced it with one that seems better. Wait, actually, that one's also pretty questionable. This one seems accurate but not really all the information we're looking for—maybe the CDC has a better article? If someone could find one that is accurate and relevant, that would be a big help. Ncpenguin (talk) 02:24, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
Well, there are other drugs you can overdose with. However, the most obvious problem with that statistics is that many people would assume that "poisoning" means "being deliberate poisoned", but most of those deaths from poisoning are accidents. -- Hkmaly (talk) 21:39, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Should we also link 1471 Gut Fauna wich shows another ewemple of Dr Ponytail practicing a weird form of medicine ? 09:25, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

It is meant as a joke here, but ultimately life might just achieve this one day, uncoupling action from harm.

'Vagueness' is really an insufficient description for the absolute insanity that is blaming the passage of time for your problems. Almost to the point of being humorous in its own right. -- 10:13, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

My nice little homo sapiens is turning into robots and they haven't even solved war. Curse evolution! I should have given them long distance communication thousands of years ago! 15:35, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Can it be also a pun: 'causality' vs 'casualty'? Tkopec (talk) 10:32, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

I think I might be covering up existing advantages with my description of a cold war from my dynamic ip. Be great if somebody could add cited material around that, but of course it's very hard to relate around norms of suppressed discussion. 16:21, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Check your family tree for any incidence of death. If all your forbears at any past generation are mortal, then science shows that with a high level of confidence that you are mortal.

The Inheritance Pattern of Death by Joseph Eastern, M.D., Carol Drucker, M.D. and John E. Wolf, Jr., M.D., 1982, J.I.R. Volume 28, Issue 22 [Comet] 17:40, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Sounds legit, although technically family history is not needed: statistically, everyone is mortal. The leading cause of death is being alive. -- Hkmaly (talk) 21:39, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

If you have a lot of doctor visits, it's probably the case that you have some chronic illness, and also that you have a lot of measurements. Nevertheless, how many measurements you've had is not a good metric of health. Robert Carnegie [email protected] 19:34, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

I'm convinced this particular comic is a snipe at poor control of availability bias and base rate fallacy in family medicine, (perhaps even involving the roots of the opioid crisis and similar scandals) so I added those and did a lot of copy-editing including adding some overlooked comic dialog and trimming about six or seven sentences of proposed possible explanations which were entirely unconvincing to me. If you put one of your potential explanations that I deleted back in, please try to flesh it out a little showing how it might relate to the actual comic instead of just sharing vague abstract philosophical similarities. Thank you! 01:55, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

This reminds me a bit of The United Appeal for the Dead in "Kentucky Fried Movie" Kimmerin (talk) 08:56, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

Is it really 'technically correct' to say that 'causality is the leading cause of death'? This seems like a category error to me. 'Causality' refers to the chain of events - it's not, in itself, a thing that can be a cause. I would say rather that this has the appearance of an obviously tautological statement, but in fact is meaningless nonsense. 09:04, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

Death is a change of state, not a state in itself (being dead prerequires having been alive, or at least at one point being possibly thought to have once been alive*). This cannot happen (have happened, be potentially happening) in a causation-free static existence.
(*) - With caveats for, say, "a dead planet" which is more about hopes (or lack of them) for the possibility of life under a different chain of circumstances... But I suppose that just supports this interpretation more.
As such, without a causality, nothing of a death can occur. However finely you cut the moment of your universally static diorama, you can never have a death frozen, merely something that might lead to death, if allowed to play, or would have been a death if not constructed as 'dead' already.
I.e. To have a death needs a causal chain (of any concoction) and that obviously cannot happen outside of a causality itself.
Also, 100% of known deaths happen where there is causality (and the claim is only that it's a leading cause, so far more cautious!). Whether that means that "causation implies correlation" is left as an excercise to the reader. ;) 16:00, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
Preventing causality doesn't seem like it would prevent death, it just means that everyone who dies would die for no reason. 20:45, 20 May 2022 (UTC)
Or else no one would die at all. Quite possibly nothing would happen, period, because for things to happen other things must make them happen.-- 04:12, 21 May 2022 (UTC)

My first thought was this classic Peanuts comic [1] User:Anthony11