There is a famous quote that I forget the reference. The saying is similar to "when you know something, it is hard to pretend not to know."

A similar saying from Ludwig Wittgenstein is

Someone who knows too much finds it hard not to lie.

I think this quote from Wittgenstein delivers a different meaning. So anyone knows who and which sentence am I looking for?

1 Answer 1


What you describe sounds like the cognitive bias known as the curse of knowledge. The term was coined in 1989 but the concept has been around longer. It was especially popularised in the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, where you can find the following formulation (quoted from the website of the Heath brothers):

This is the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.

A quote from Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is sometimes explained in a similar way:

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's there are few.

In other words, due to his knowledge, the expert rejects certain options out of hand or does not even see them, while the beginner is not (yet) hampered by the knowledge that the expert has accumulated.

  • Ignorance is bliss?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 29, 2020 at 13:48
  • 1
    It's more about downsides of expertise that experts need to be aware of, than about upsides of ignorance. We wouldn't want ignorance at Stack Exchange, I think ;-)
    – Tsundoku
    Sep 29, 2020 at 14:00

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