Thursday 10 October 2013

Hot Spot in cricket, and the decline of intelligence


The Hot Spot technology has been removed from the forthcoming 'Ashes' Test Match series between Australia and England.

Because the Umpires are apparently cognitively incapable of understanding the concept of False Negative results.


In a nutshell, If Hot Spot DOES shows a hot spot on the bat when the ball passes, then the ball HAS hit the bat. This is useful.

But if there is NO Hot Sport when the ball passes the bat, then the ball may have HIT the bat, but failed to register.

In other words, there are no False Positives, but there are False Negatives - so Hot Spot can be used to overturn a not-out decision, but not an out decision.


However, the Umpires have been using Hot Spot as if it was always correct, and the failure to show a Hot Spot has been assumed to mean not out, even when the Umpire has heard a sound and the batsman is already given out.

And the Umpires won't stop doing this!


It seems the Umpires simply lack the applied intelligence to understand the concept of a technology which does have False Negatives, but not False Positives - and so the technology has had to be removed.

I think we will be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing in the future - potentially useful technology which in practice cannot be used because the relevant responsible people can't understand it.


(Disease screening - e.g. for breast or prostate cancer, runs into similar problems but with False Positives.)


Note: I used to blog a fair bit about cricket - here:

but haven't had much to say recently.


Titus Didius Tacitus said...

Sports are in a fortunate situation: they can dump technology which due the limited intelligence of the operators is counterproductive.

Bruce Charlton said...

@TDT - Indeed.

And good/ great leadership is still possible in sport - but not in most other modern social systems

dearieme said...

The answer is Snicko!

Where were we: dim ex-sportsmen? They should take up "Climate Science": they'd fit right in treat.

dearieme said...

"Hot Spot can be used to overturn a not-out decision, but not an out decision."

It can be used to overturn an out decision if that decision was LBW.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - Quite right.

(I was trying to keep it simple... but that is impossible in cricket without also getting it wrong.)

dearieme said...

Your basic point is a good one. The duty of the "third umpire" - the chap not out on the field but in the office with all the tech stuff - is really pretty easy because of the explicit rule that he can recommend the overturning of the field umpires' decisions only with conclusive evidence of error. And still they mucked it up in the last England-Australia series. Was this unusual - have previous series had the problem?

The other interesting feature of the last series was that the Aussies were very slow in learning how to use the appeals system to best advantage. Do you have any Aussie readers who can explain that?

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

I was trying to keep it simple... but that is impossible in (...) without also getting it wrong.

You won't be the last one to say that, as intelligence continues to decline.