The Distortion of Ideas LO22964

Roy Greenhalgh (
Sat, 23 Oct 1999 18:16:16 +0100

Replying to LO22949 --


Thank you for an excellent exposition of how ideas get distorted, and how
we use the distortion without checking it out. There is much in your
posting I agree with.

However, re the following quotation:-
>Michael Polanyi's concept of tacit knowledge. Polanyi used the term to
>refer to the things we know that we can't articulate (e.g., how we
>recognize a particular person's face). By definition, then, tacit
>knowledge is knowledge that can't be articulated. Yet, I regularly see
>tacit knowledge defined simply as "knowledge that is in people's
>That is dead wrong.

Then where is it?

I clearly CAN recognize my kids as they walk across the school yard. I
can describe facial and physical features ... and then I run out of
language. I admit I cannot articulate what it is that allows me to
recognize them.

But I can recognise them .. and I do!

Where is this image of the faces of my kids held that I am trying to map
onto (if that is what I'm doing)?

Incidentally Max Boisot, in "Knowledge Assets" ISBN 0-19-829086-1 pp 38
writes ^.... complexity absorption leads to the steady accumulation of
tacit, experiential knowledge inside an organization. Although not
necessarily ineffable, such knowledge can only be articulated and
communicated with difficulty. It therefore tends to remain locked up in
the heads of it possessors.^

Roy Greenhalgh

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>