5 Insane Scientific Charts You Won't Believe Actually Exist

#2. Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale

What Does it Measure?

The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale measures how much pain the subject is in at the time of testing. And there's nothing inherently wrong with rating the level of discomfort a patient is feeling; that's an important diagnostic tool. Probably. It seems to us like pain, by its very nature, is a subjective thing that varies from person to person and by definition defies objective measurement. But, hey, we cry on waterslides and call our moms when we get sunburned; we're not exactly experts.

Segway accident.

The thing that's so bizarre about the Wong-Baker scale is the execution. No Pain guy is spot on:

He's doing good. But then you have Mild Pain guy, who seems fairly stoked about his own suffering.

That expression doesn't say, "mild pain" to us. That says, "Hey, this episode of Burn Notice is actually pretty OK." Then there's the Moderate Pain twins, one of whom is waiting patiently for you to finish your anecdote about your cat and the other has just discovered he's out of Cheerios.

Severe Pain is only a bit sad, like he's just hit play on the TiVo a split second too soon and caught the end of that Sarah McLachlan commercial about homeless dogs...

...and Worst Pain Possible just watched Terms of Endearment alone with nobody to judge him.

Ostensibly, this scale is visual to overcome the language barrier, but if you've never seen this chart before and don't speak the language, you're going to be wondering why the doctor is asking you to indicate how much of a morning person you are while you've got this two by four lodged in your anus.

#1. Life Change Units

What Does it Measure?

Life is such a grand concept, so amorphous and variegated (thanks, Word of the Day Toilet Paper!) you'd think it'd be impossible, absurd even, to create a scale that measures all the changes a person could possibly go through. You might even say that it's ill conceived, pointless, overly ambitious or just plain stupid to "graph" all of life, but don't tell that to Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe. They created the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which lists all the major tragedies and life-altering changes a person undergoes in a given year, ranking them according to how much stress they would cause.

The scale works like this: The higher an event ranks, the more "Life Change Units" it's worth. Going to jail, for instance, is 63 Life Change Units. But hey, at least going to prison for murdering your wife spared you a divorce, which would have net you 73 Life Change Units. Whew, dodged a bullet there! (Too bad she didn't.)

25 Life Change Units.

Your man-plumbing being on the fritz may actually be a blessing in disguise ("sexual difficulties" is rated at 39 units) since at least you'll be avoiding any pregnancies in the near future (40 units). That's right: Carrying a child around in your belly for nine months is only one point more stressful than experiencing a single malfunctioning boner.

43 Life Change Units.

And obsessively compiling your stresses isn't just for adults: There's a version for you youngsters out there too!

But what do you get for accumulating these Life Change Units? If you collect enough, do you level up into enlightenment? Nope: You win death. According to the Holmes and Rahe, those who rack up over 300 life change units in a year are at serious risk of illness. But hey, it's still a high score, so go for it. Nothing beats the satisfaction of that "enter your initials" screen.


JD Niemand is best known for his astounding and deep-rooted window onto the human condition/crappy stick figure webcomic Stickman and Cube.Nathan Birch has also spent an immeasurable amount of time creating the webcomic Zoology.

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For more articles, check out more strange stuff Science is studying, in 6 Sex Myths as Explained by Science and 5 Widely Believed Dating Myths (Science Says Aren't True).

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