and False Negative: Part II
basically know what they are, but there's more to know. So let's take it a step further and
apply these two to the matter of reality. When we try to
see reality, we can see things correctly, or incorrectly.
words, what we
see can be true, or false (for now, let's leave out the idea of
intentional falsehood, or lying--what the boy who cried wolf
eliminate both false results at the same time
It would be
nice if we could, but we can't. n
spite of all our efforts, we can come up with invalid, or false
conclusions. So we have to deal with that, too.
and this is a big but, when we try to reduce the possibility of
one kind of false conclusion, we increase the possibility of the
other. The more we try to prevent a false positive,
the more we make it possible to come up with a false negative,
and vice versa.
Why? Because how
deal with false positives and false negatives is by how high,
or low we set the bar for deciding whether something is true, or
not. The "bar" is the criteria for deciding
If we set the bar high for
saying something is true, we increase the possibility of
incorrectly saying something is false (a false negative).
Take a murder trial, for
example. We set the bar high by telling the jury to
convict a person only if the evidence is "beyond a reasonable
doubt." That means if we have some doubt, don't convict,
and this is setting the bar for convicting someone pretty high.
And that means, based on
the evidence provided, we might have a "reasonable doubt" when the person is
actually guilty--as a result, we come up with a "Not
guilty" verdict. Turns out this is a false
negative, because the person is really guilty (but we couldn't
Since we've set the bar for conviction high, some people who are
really guilty may go free.
Most people would prefer this.
Why? Because if we set the bar low in a murder trial and
say go ahead and convict someone if we're only "pretty sure" the evidence shows that person to be guilty, we
increase the chance of convicting an innocent person.
And we might end up executing, or permanently imprisoning
someone who didn't commit murder.
Same thing with the
medical diagnosis. If we set the bar high for for saying
there is NO illness, we increase the possibility of saying there
is an illness when there isn't. Most people would prefer
this, because the alternative is failing to diagnose a real
If you'd like to know even more about this
topic, including how it fits in the Scientific Method.
read about intelligence
read about reasoning and how we can use it
read about Critical Thinking and how it benefits us
read about a couple ways of thinking (divergent and convergent)
read about causality
read about who likes it when people are ignorant, or stupid
go to the Articles Page.