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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Daniel J. Boorstin Quotes

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Daniel J. Boorstin
(1 Oct 1914 - 28 Feb 2004)

American historian and writer who was the1974 Pulitzer Prize winner in history for his scholarly The Democratic Experience (1973). He was director National Museum of History and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution then served as its senior historian (1973-75) after which he was appointed Librarian of Congress (1973-85). His book, The Discoverers gives an epic survey of the geographic and scientific pioneers.

Science Quotes by Daniel J. Boorstin (32 quotes)

A celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Know (321)  |  Person (114)

A sign of a celebrity is often that his name is worth more than his services.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961), 220.
Science quotes on:  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Name (118)  |  Service (54)  |  Sign (36)  |  Worth (74)

Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted in Ponchitta Pierce, 'Who Are Our Heroes?', Parade Magazine (6 Aug 1995). As cited in Before I Pour This Over Your Head, Remember That I Love You (), 41 & 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Hero (29)  |  History (302)  |  News (12)  |  People (269)

Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted in Ponchitta Pierce, 'Who Are Our Heroes?', Parade Magazine (6 Aug 1995). As cited in Before I Pour This Over Your Head, Remember That I Love You (), 41 & 63.

Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In Democracy and its Discontents: Reflections on Everyday America (1974, 1975), 51.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (280)  |  Know (321)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Learn (160)  |  Learning (174)

Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In Democracy and Its Discontents: Reflections on Everyday America (1975), 51.

I beg this committee to recognize that knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary. Knowledge is never used up, it increases by diffusion, and grows by dispersion. Knowledge and information cannot be quantitatively assessed, as a percentage of the G.N.P. Any willful cut in our resources of knowledge is an act of self-destruction.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
While Librarian of Congress, asking a House Appropriations subcommittee to restore money cut from the library’s budget. As reported in New York Times (23 Feb 1986).
Science quotes on:  |  Commodity (3)  |  Cut (36)  |  Diffusion (7)  |  Grow (66)  |  Increase (107)  |  Information (102)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Quantitative (15)  |  Resource (47)  |  Willful (3)

I write to discover what I think. After all, the bars aren’t open that early.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
On his habit of writing in the early morning hours. As quoted in Wall Street Journal (31 Dec 1985).
Science quotes on:  |  Bar (4)  |  Discover (115)  |  Early (39)  |  Open (38)  |  Think (205)  |  Write (87)

Jefferson refused to pin his hopes on the occasional success of honest and unambitious men; on the contrary, the great danger was that philosophers would be lulled into complacence by the accidental rise of a Franklin or a Washington. Any government which made the welfare of men depend on the character of their governors was an illusion.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, 1993), 178.
Science quotes on:  |  Character (82)  |  Benjamin Franklin (81)  |  Government (85)  |  Governor (7)  |  Honest (26)  |  Hope (129)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Thomas Jefferson (59)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Success (202)  |  George Washington (4)  |  Welfare (16)

Nothing could be more obvious than that the earth is stable and unmoving, and that we are in the center of the universe. Modern Western science takes its beginning from the denial of this common sense axiom.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Discoverers (2011), 294.
Science quotes on:  |  Axiom (26)  |  Beginning (114)  |  Center (30)  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Denial (13)  |  Earth (487)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Obvious (54)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Stable (15)  |  Universe (563)

Since the Creator had made the facts of the after-life inaccessible to man, He must not have required that man understand death in order to live fruitfully.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, 1993), 262.
Science quotes on:  |  Creator (40)  |  Death (270)  |  Fruitful (31)  |  Live (186)  |  Understand (189)

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
As attributed, without citation, in Connie Robertson Book of Humorous Quotations (1993, 1998), 29. However, the same quote is attributed to Anthony Burgess in Joanne Feierman, Action Grammar: Fast, No-Hassle Answers on Everyday Usage and Punctuation (1995), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Achieve (36)  |  Born (14)  |  Great (300)  |  Greatness (34)  |  Hire (4)  |  Officer (6)  |  Public Relations (3)

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Speaking on the computerization of libraries. As quoted by Barbara Gamarekian in 'Working Profile: Daniel J. Boorstin. Helping the Library of Congress Fulfill Its Mission', New York Times (8 Jul 1983), B6.
Science quotes on:  |  Drive (38)  |  Fog (7)  |  Fun (28)  |  Information (102)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Technology (199)

The century after the Civil War was to be an Age of Revolution—of countless, little-noticed revolutions, which occurred not in the halls of legislatures or on battlefields or on the barricades but in homes and farms and factories and schools and stores, across the landscape and in the air—so little noticed because they came so swiftly, because they touched Americans everywhere and every day. Not merely the continent but human experience itself, the very meaning of community, of time and space, of present and future, was being revised again and again, a new democratic world was being invented and was being discovered by Americans wherever they lived.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Americans: The Democratic Experience (1973, 1974), ix.
Science quotes on:  |  Battlefield (5)  |  Civil War (2)  |  Community (65)  |  Democracy (21)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Experience (268)  |  Factory (13)  |  Farm (17)  |  Future (229)  |  Home (58)  |  Invention (283)  |  Landscape (23)  |  Legislature (3)  |  Present (103)  |  Revise (4)  |  Revolution (56)  |  School (87)  |  Store (17)  |  Swiftly (4)  |  Time And Space (30)

The great obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
The Discoverers (1985), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Continent (39)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Earth (487)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Obstacle (21)  |  Ocean (115)  |  Shape (52)

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
From interview, Carol Krucoff, 'The 6 O’Clock Scholar: Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin And His Love Affair With Books', The Washington Post (29 Jan 1984), K8.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (591)  |  Greatest (53)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Obstacle (21)

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
From interview, Carol Krucoff, 'The 6 O’Clock Scholar: Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin And His Love Affair With Books', The Washington Post (29 Jan 1984), K8.

The hero is known for achievements; the celebrity for well-knownness.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted in Ponchitta Pierce, 'Who Are Our Heroes?', Parade Magazine (6 Aug 1995). As cited in Before I Pour This Over Your Head, Remember That I Love You (), 41 & 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (128)  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Hero (29)  |  Known (15)  |  Well-Known (4)

The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and media.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted in Ponchitta Pierce, 'Who Are Our Heroes?', Parade Magazine (6 Aug 1995). As cited in Before I Pour This Over Your Head, Remember That I Love You (), 41 & 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Hero (29)  |  Human Nature (51)  |  Media (6)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Press (16)  |  Reveal (32)

The history of Western science confirms the aphorism that the great menace to progress is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In Cleopatra’s Nose: Essays on the Unexpected (1994), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Aphorism (18)  |  Confirm (12)  |  History (302)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Menace (4)  |  Progress (317)  |  Science (1699)  |  Western (14)

The institutional scene in which American man has developed has lacked that accumulation from intervening stages which has been so dominant a feature of the European landscape.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, 1993), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  America (74)  |  Develop (55)  |  Dominant (11)  |  Europe (32)  |  Feature (34)  |  Institutional (3)  |  Intervene (2)  |  Scene (10)  |  Stage (39)

The mind is a vagrant thing ... Thinking is not analogous to a person working in a laboratory who invents something on company time.
Answering criticism that the book for which he won a Pulitzer Prize was written in the years he had been employed at the Smithsonian. He specified that did not write on the premises there, but only at home outside of working hours.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted by Barbara Gamarekian in 'Working Profile: Daniel J. Boorstin. Helping the Library of Congress Fulfill Its Mission', New York Times (8 Jul 1983), B6.
Science quotes on:  |  Invention (283)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Mind (544)  |  Vagrant (4)  |  Workplace (2)

The Republic of Technology where we will be living is a feedback world.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Republic of Technology: Reflections on our Future Community (1979), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Feedback (8)  |  Live (186)  |  Republic (5)  |  Technology (199)  |  World (667)

The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes “sight-seeing.”
— Daniel J. Boorstin
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961, 2012), 85. https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0307819167 Daniel J. Boorstin - 2012
Science quotes on:  |  Active (17)  |  Adventure (36)  |  Expect (27)  |  Experience (268)  |  Happen (63)  |  Interesting (38)  |  Passive (5)  |  Search (85)  |  Sight-Seeing (2)  |  Strenuous (3)  |  Tourist (5)  |  Traveler (18)

The variety of minds served the economy of nature in many ways. The Creator, who designed the human brain for activity, had insured the restlessness of all minds by enabling no single one to envisage all the qualities of the creation. Since no one by himself could aspire to a serene knowledge of the whole truth, all men had been drawn into an active, exploratory and cooperative attitude.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, 1993), 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (181)  |  Creator (40)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Nature (1029)

These creators, makers of the new, can never become obsolete, for in the arts there is no correct answer. The story of discoverers could be told in simple chronological order, since the latest science replaces what went before. But the arts are another story—a story of infinite addition. We must find order in the random flexings of the imagination.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination (1992), xv.
Science quotes on:  |  Addition (22)  |  Creator (40)  |  Discoverer (9)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Obsolete (7)  |  Random (21)  |  Science And Art (157)

Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted in Ponchitta Pierce, 'Who Are Our Heroes?', Parade Magazine (6 Aug 1995). As cited in Before I Pour This Over Your Head, Remember That I Love You (), 41 & 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Dissolve (9)  |  Hero (29)  |  Time (439)

We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in their place.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961), Preface.
Science quotes on:  |  Delusion (13)  |  Haunt (3)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Image (38)  |  Primarily (9)  |  Reality (140)  |  Substitute (23)  |  Suffer (25)  |  Vice (15)  |  Weakness (31)

What an amateur is, is a lover of a subject. I’m a lover of facts. The fact is the savior, as long as you don’t jam it into some preconceived pattern.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
From interview, Carol Krucoff, 'The 6 O’Clock Scholar: Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin And His Love Affair With Books', The Washington Post (29 Jan 1984), K8.
Science quotes on:  |  Amateur (18)  |  Fact (609)  |  Great (300)  |  Lover (7)  |  Pattern (56)  |  Preconceived (3)  |  Savior (3)  |  Subject (129)

While the easiest way in metaphysics is to condemn all metaphysics as nonsense, the easiest way in morals is to elevate the common practice of the community into a moral absolute.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, 1993), 111.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (65)  |  Common (92)  |  Community (65)  |  Condemn (6)  |  Elevate (5)  |  Metaphysic (3)  |  Moral (100)  |  Nonsense (32)  |  Practice (67)

While the Jeffersonian did not flatly deny the Creator’s power to perform miracles, he admired His refusal to do so.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
In The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, 1993), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Admire (10)  |  Creator (40)  |  Deny (29)  |  Thomas Jefferson (59)  |  Miracle (55)  |  Power (273)  |  Refusal (20)

[The Library of Congress] is a multimedia encyclopedia. These are the tentacles of a nation.
[Referring to the diverse holdings of the library, including motion pictures, photographs, recordings, posters and other historic objects which collectively far outnumber the books]
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Quoted by Barbara Gamarekian in 'Working Profile: Daniel J. Boorstin. Helping the Library of Congress Fulfill Its Mission', New York Times (8 Jul 1983), B6.
Science quotes on:  |  Congress (9)  |  Encyclopedia (5)  |  Library (37)  |  Movie (8)  |  Nation (111)  |  Photograph (17)  |  Recording (4)  |  Tentacle (2)


See also:
  • The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself, by Daniel J. Boorstin. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Daniel Boorstin.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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