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Archive for the ‘Tacit Knowledge’ Category

Obverse/Reverse

Monday, October 5th, 2009

When I was a teenager my mother won a mint set of coins in a display case; a neat prize. Something that surprised me when I looked at it in detail was that the coins with the Queen’s head on were described as the obverse of the coin, and those with the distinctive design the reverse. This contradicted something that was part of my (mistaken) tacit knowledge about the world, i.e. that the distinctive side was the front, and the Queen’s head the back (probably being rooted in learning about coins by looking at the side on which the amount was displayed so as to learn the denomination).

Bizarrely, I’ve never been able to square this objective knowledge with my tacit feeling that the Queen’s head is on the back. I have known objectively that the Queen’s head is the front of the coin for around 25 years. However, I still basically grok that the Queen’s head is on the back. I wonder if this kind of conflict between tacit and explicit knowledge is a known and studied phenomenon?