You cannot be serious! Public Understanding of Technology with special reference to `Hawk-Eye.’
Harry Collins and Robert Evans
An edited version of this paper will be published by Public Understanding of Science 17, 3, July 2008.
Public understanding of science, though it approaches the specialist knowledge of experts only in rare circumstances, can be enhanced more broadly in respect of the processes of science and technology. The public understanding of measurement errors and confidence intervals could be enhanced if `sports-decision aids’, such as the Hawk-Eye system, were to present their results in a different way. There is a danger that Hawk-Eye as used could inadvertently cause naïve viewers to overestimate the ability of technological devices to resolve disagreement among humans because measurement errors are not made salient. For example, virtual reconstructions can easily be taken to show `exactly what really happened’. Suggestions are made for how confidence levels might be measured and represented and `health warnings’ attached to reconstructions. A general principle for the use of sports decision aids is put forward. A set of open questions about Hawk-Eye is presented which, if answered, could help inform discussions of its use and accuracy.
Keywords: Sports decision aids; Hawk-Eye; public understanding of technology; simulations; cricket; tennis
At the heart of the debate about public understanding of science is the relationship between esoteric knowledge and ubiquitous knowledge. The debate turns on the extent to which the ubiquitous knowledge alone is enough to make judgements that touch on esoteric knowledge. The discredited `deficit model’ held that public discomfort with science and technology was caused by a lack of specialist knowledge: if only the public could share in the specialist knowledge of science