May 30, 2017

“Ignorance is bliss” – except when it’s not…

Thomas Gray, poet-8x6

“Where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.”

       Thomas Gray (1716-1771) 
       English poet
       From the last two lines of his poem “On a Distant Prospect of Eton College.”
       This is the origin of the proverbial phrase “ignorance is bliss.” In the poem, it referred to young people who are happily oblivious to the difficulties they will face as adults — and to the ultimate, inescapable fate of death.
       “Ignorance is bliss” is now more widely used in one of two ways: to suggest that it is sometimes better not to be aware of something that might make a person unhappy; or, as a satirical remark about people who try to ignore issues they should be concerned about and dealing with. 

William C. Dudley

“Ignorance is bliss. Without sufficient appreciation of our own ignorance, we cease to be curious, we cease to be receptive to new ideas and we cease to be respectful of other people. Awareness of our own ignorance is a virtue: knowing that we do not know everything makes us humble, patient, open to compromise and collaboration. You may have noticed that these qualities are in short supply. Embracing your ignorance is good for you and it’s good for the world.”
       William C. Dudley
       President of Washington and Lee University
       In his commencement speech to graduating students on May 25, 2017

chris rock & robin williams

“Comedians can be a sad bunch, you know. You know what’s the saying? Ignorance is bliss. So if ignorance is bliss, what’s the opposite of ignorance? Must not be bliss. And your job as a comedian, you know, is basically to notice everything. And the better the comedian, the more aware he or she is of the world around them. So you know, it can be not a happy place. Sometimes you can have too much information. Sometimes you can know too much.”

       Chris Rock
       American comedian and actor
       His response in an August 12, 2014 interview about the death by suicide of his friend Robin Williams

Stephen Fry on QI-8x6

“If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people in the world?”
       Stephen Fry
       British actor, author and wit
       On the BBC comedy panel game show QI (short for “Quite Interesting”)


“When it comes to anything found on the shelves of the feminine hygiene aisle, ignorance is bliss.”
       Daniel M. Cruse
       American author and contributor
       In his post about “Air Intake Systems”

STD poster-8x6           

“When it comes to communicable diseases, ignorance is not bliss.”
       Kay Robertson           
       Communicable disease expert
       At a recent public hearing in Helena, Montana

Party Girl-8x6

DERRICK (actor John Cameron Mitchell): “O’Neal, settle a bet. Is ignorance bliss?”
O’NEAL: (actor Matthew Borlenghi): “I don’t know. I just wanna be happy!”
       In the TV series Party Girl (1996)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing...

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Creative Commons License
Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

The Quote/Counterquote blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Any duplicative or remixed use of the original text written for this blog and any exact duplications the specific sets of quotations collected for the posts shown here must include an attribution to and, if online, a link to

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something we've posted and think we may have violated fair use standards, please let me know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and are committed to protecting your privacy. We will not sell your email address, etc. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.