Knowledge Hypocrites: Take Two!

Knowledge Hypocrites: Take Two!.

The link above points to a great post by KMBeing that deserves some re-blogging here. It looks at the issue of hypocrisy in espousing the values of taking knowledge and putting it into practice, without practicing it. It’s worth a read.

There are a lot of professions and practices where we say one thing and mean another. This is something that can apply to health promotion, design, evaluation and social justice work in any guise.

What do the words and ideas mean and what do they mean in practice?

These two concepts are part of reflective practice and also require good communication, the kind that that allows people to find out what the meaning of their words are in the eyes and ears of another. Good communication requires speaking clearly, listening clearly, and clarifying clearly and doing so honestly and openly.

One of the issues with many of knowledge practitioners is that the rhetoric of knowledge translation/mobilization is so seductive. It is so common-sensical and even trendy. But the idea of sharing what we know, building relationships, and working together in true collaboration is much harder when viewed in reality where people have different resources, power structures, perceptions, reflective capacities, skills, knowledge, and time.

Knowledge mobilization is about not just strategy or tactics, but building up a system that supports it all. David Phipps, who wrote the original article looking at these hypocrisies was referring to this by commenting on the fact that there are too few incentives to change the way things are done and so without a top-level strategy to support change and no incentive from the bottom, the system remains the same.

Designing and living a system that works requires living and designing practices that support our values and communication now.

3 thoughts on “Knowledge Hypocrites: Take Two!”

  1. Absolutely. One of the most common hypocrisies is to use words which the “target group” (that is your fellow human beings) do not understand or use the way you do and then complain that these “others” are not doing what you want them to do. Social Dimensions partner Peter Howard asked farmers what they meant by “sustainability” and “biodiversity”. For many sustainability meant financial viability and biodiversity meant growing different kinds of grain or including sheep in the mix. No wonder the local natural land management group was not making much progress in changing behaviour. The fundemental skill in health promotion and social change is active listening not empty talking.

  2. Thank you very much for your acknowledgement of my recent blog. As you point out, good communication is the key. The challenge is to communicate meaning – sometimes across many barriers – with integrity, to break down barriers and create understanding. It’s not always easy, but when done with integrity, honesty and openness, knowledge mobilization (KMb) succeeds. Thanks again from KMbeing.

  3. Thanks again for blog mention and for your comment Cameron on my blog at As I mentioned previously on this great blog site, I appreciate the acknowledgement, and emphasize that good communication is the key – but it’s not always easy (as you also point out). Good communication is sometimes (often more than not) a challenge with many barriers. To overcome these challenges we must have personal integrity with a desire to communicate and break down barriers to create understanding with anyone we come in contact with.

    As you also point out, the term “communities of practice” is often thrown around so often withhout really understanding what it is that we want to accomplish within “communities of practice”. At the heart of knowledge mobilization is the hope for social benefit; on a smaller scale for communities of practice – on a larger scale to make the world a better place.

    Until we can appreciate the more holistic idea of “communities of practice” that embraces the many peoples, cultures and values that sometimes don’t match our own but still provide channels to communicate understanding across communities of practice, there is little hope for creating new knowledge and change.

    Thanks again.

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