And I quote: Daniel J. Boorstin

different experiences with obstacles

I recently ran across this quote from Daniel Boorstin in the introduction to a documentary film:

“The biggest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance — it is the illusion of knowledge.”

It fits with my understanding of what it means to be teachable, which involves humility; proudly feeling that you already know is a very effective barrier.

Daniel J. Boorstin, 12th librarian of Congress

Naturally, the quote made me wonder in what areas I’m facing this very obstacle. There are areas where I know that I’ve got a great deal more to learn, but I’m sure there are others where I have the illusion that I’m knowledgeable, so I’m not progressing.

Boorstin is also credited with a quote about education, which seems to relate:

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”

I don’t think this means that gaining knowledge you knew you needed is somehow not education,* but I like some focus brought to this idea of unexpected enlightenment.

Lest you think that Boorstin has only profound thoughts, there’s this:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.”

Malvolio, perhaps contemplating having achieved greatness


*It seems to me that the main purpose of a pithy statement like this is to catch our attention and to make us think, perhaps to get the ball rolling, not to explore all aspects of a topic. A response of “yes, but…” may be inevitable.


[Images:, wikipedia,]

One thought on “And I quote: Daniel J. Boorstin

  1. Pingback: And I quote: Leo Tolstoy | Lori Notes

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