Can you give us a real life scenario when FP is more important, and when FN is?

Rahul S
2 min readApr 17, 2023
src: Google ML course

In various real-life scenarios, it is essential to be careful about both false positive and false negative cases. False positives occur when a test result indicates the presence of a condition or disease, but the person does not have it. False negatives, on the other hand, occur when a test result indicates the absence of a condition or disease, but the person actually has it.

Here are some scenarios when to be careful about false positive cases:

  1. Fraud Detection: In fraud detection, false positives can lead to the rejection of legitimate transactions, which can cause customer dissatisfaction and lost business.
  2. Drug Testing in Athletics: False positive results in drug testing for athletes can lead to unwarranted penalties, bans, and damage to their reputation.

Here are some scenarios when to be careful about false negative cases:

  1. Medical Diagnosis (Cancer Screening, HIV Testing) : False negative results in medical diagnosis can lead to delayed or missed treatment, which can be life-threatening for the patient.
  2. Drug Testing: False negative results in drug testing can lead to drug abuse going undetected, which can be dangerous to the individual and society.
  3. Pregnancy Tests: False negative results in pregnancy tests can lead to a delay in seeking prenatal care, which can negatively impact both the mother and baby’s health.
  4. Food Safety Testing: False negative results in food safety testing can lead to contaminated food being released to the public, which can cause outbreaks of foodborne illness.
  5. Airport Security Screening for Weapons: False negative results in airport security screening for weapons can lead to a security breach, endangering the safety of passengers and staff.

In summary, being careful about false positives and false negatives is important in various scenarios, and the appropriate balance between sensitivity and specificity must be struck to ensure accuracy and effectiveness.

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