Talk:2581: Health Stats

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Pretty late comic! GcGYSF(asterisk)P(vertical line)e (talk) 06:26, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

It's positive feedback, not negative. Negative feedback is when the response is in the opposite direction of the stimulus (e.g. Cueball becoming more relaxed as blood pressure goes up) and often results in an equilibrium state. A vicious circle (positive feedback) by contrast is when the response ends up increasing the stimulus further, as is the case in this comic. 11:19, 15 February 2022 (UTC),back%20to%20a%20stable%20state. 11:50, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

I feel Cueball's pain. My employer has a checklist where we are supposed to take our temperature every day before coming to work. My problem is, I run hot. My "normal" temperature is usually 99.6ish, not 98.6ish. I knew this for years prior to the pandemic - I used to be a frequent blood donor and would get turned away about a third of the time because they won't take anyone above 99.5. Even though I knew all this, the paranoia induced by daily monitoring and a value that would be abnormal for others but totally typical for me got so bad that I don't do it. No one is enforcing it at the door - it is basically the honor system, and it was causing me more anxiety than actually solving anything. 18:54, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

A simple "solution" to this, at least for forehead thermometers, would be to engage in some moderate exercise shortly before having your temperature taken, such that you get some perspiration on your forehead. Then you can discontinue the exercise, and the sweat will evaporate soon afterwards, resulting in a particularly low skin temperature for a short while. Dansiman (talk) 21:30, 15 February 2022 (UTC)
No one is taking my temperature - like I said, it is the honor system and they are expecting you to do it before you show up. My point is that doing so was creating anxiety much like Cueball's, with not a lot of utility to the acquired data. 18:27, 16 February 2022 (UTC)
'Google: 99.6 f to c' -> '37.56' Hmm, that seems very close to average. Why are those people so concerned about such a small difference compared to average body temperature? Beanie talk 20:11, 16 February 2022 (UTC)

I see this as mainly a joke on how consumer devices often provide more precision than is actually needed, and users don't understand that the extra precision is usually not significant. The only reason "normal" human temperature is 98.6F, to the 10th of a degree, is because average temperature was first measured in Celsius then this was convered to Fahrenheit. But 37C was originally rounded off from an average, so it wasn't precise enough to warrant using an extra decimal place in the conversion. Barmar (talk) 19:23, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

Also a saultory lesson in the misunderstanding of the relationship (i.e. that there really isnt one, at least reliably) between precision and accuracy. Without proper calibration, even moment-to-moment consistency of measurement can be sullied by it being (consistently) wrong, or wrongly read out. Adding more decimals may seem to give a more persuasive estimate, but doesn't do a thing to stop inaccuracy. 19:51, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

I think we can assume that customer devices have a significant inaccuracy but have build-in time consistency to increase the trust in the device. Thus, I don't think the inconsistency between two measurements can explain the variation. Since the hand is moved around on the comic strip positioning is a more likely cause. -- 20:10, 15 February 2022 (UTC)

Saw an article a few weeks ago on the nocebo effect of fitness gadgets ... could be related. Boatster (talk) 00:02, 16 February 2022 (UTC)

Just a side note: 72.961% of all readers trusts fictional data more if it has lots of decimals. 11:26, 16 February 2022 (UTC)

True fact: When the height of Mount Everest was first accurately calculated, the result was 29,000 ft. That was within a precision of one foot, but looked like it was rounded to the nearest 1,000, so they announced it to be 29,002 ft instead to actually look as accurate as it was (or had been!) precise.
Incidentally, that figure was established from measurements taken from no closer than 100 miles from the mountain (due to local politics and other difficulties) that had to account for atmospheric refraction, as well as the curvature of the Earth, etc. The current official measure, with 'hands on' access, is 29,031.7 ft. The difference (of 9.66m, to put it into modern units) is slight. If you assume it is changing directly in line with the average rise of the Himalayas, over the intervening 170 years, that's around 8.91m off. It's not possible to assess seasonal (snow-depth) changes, but that might cut another good fraction off again. Not bad for 1850s capabilities. 22:47, 16 February 2022 (UTC)

The explanation says that it is a new smartwatch, but the comic immediately made me think it was a new feature added by a software update. 15:55, 16 February 2022 (UTC)

how close is the volume of blood in a hand to a typical adult human? 20:16, 17 February 2022 (UTC)

This comic has me wondering if there is a fitness device that measures blood volume "down there"? That would introduce a hilarious new esports contest. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 06:37, 20 February 2022 (UTC)

For the record, .28ml is approx 1/17th of a teaspoon JamesCurran (talk) 22:22, 17 March 2022 (UTC)