What is Base Rate?

Legal Definition
In probability and statistics, base rate generally refers to the (base) class probabilities unconditioned on featural evidence, frequently also known as prior probabilities. For example, if it were the case that 1% of the public were "medical professionals", and 99% of the public were not "medical professionals", then the base rate of medical professionals is simply 1%.

In the sciences, including medicine, the base rate is critical for comparison. It may at first seem impressive that 1000 people beat their winter cold while using 'Treatment X', until we look at the entire 'Treatment X' population and find that the base rate of success is actually only 1/100 (i.e. 100,000 people tried the treatment, but the other 99,000 people never really beat their winter cold). The treatment's effectiveness is clearer when such base rate information (i.e. "1000 people... out of how many?") is available. Note that controls may likewise offer further information for comparison; maybe the control groups, who were using no treatment at all, had their own base rate success of 5/100. Controls thus indicate that 'Treatment X' actually makes things worse, despite that initial proud claim about 1000 people.

The normative method for integrating base rates (prior probabilities) and featural evidence (likelihoods) is given by Bayes' rule.
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Legal Definition
1. a basic fee or wage that has additional funds taken or added to it. 2. the UKs benchmark lending rate.