Stupid vs Ignorant

What is the difference between being stupid and being ignorant? Lately I have heard a lot of people saying that it is better to be ignorant then to be stupid because stupid is forever, but ignorant can be changed. I don’t think that that it true. In my mind, stupid is perfectly changeable. We say someone is stupid when they don’t know something that we view as common knowledge, but once we tell them about it, they know. I liken it to someone given a book. A stupid person reads the book, but doesn’t fully understand it. It needs to be explained to them. But an ignorant person will do one of two things: either they’ll read the book with the knowledge necessary to understand it fully, but they will ignore it, or they will refuse to read the book. Refusing to read the book is willful ignorance, where as ignoring some fact is usually subconscious and is caused by bias. Either way, it is much more difficult to educate the ignorant one than it is to educate the stupid one.

The reason I am writing this is because “stupid” is a terrible insult. We are all “stupid” at some time or another. None of us know everything. But we can be taught. I do not like to call people stupid for that reason. However, ignorance is my pet-peeve. Especially willful ignorance. I do not expect everybody to know everything that I do, but I do expect them to take what I say into consideration and be willing to learn. I am perfectly willing to afford others the same respect. But I have found that there is a culture surrounding being proud of ones ignorance. People are proud of not knowing and they see learning as a waste of time. I really hope that culture dies out soon.

7 responses to “Stupid vs Ignorant

  • mistavega

    I think you may be confusing ignorance with stupidity. Where you say something is ignorant, I would say it’s stupidity and vice versa. To put it crudely, stupidity is cognitive limitation. Ignorance is not being aware of something relative to it’s context.

    So when I call someone stupid I make the claim that their incapable of understanding X.

    When I call someone ignorant I mean to say that they’re unaware of X.

    Here’s the crux of the issue. I think it goes without saying that we’re all ignorant, but we all might be stupid too. If stupidity lies in your incapabilities in cerebral affairs, then you have to ask yourself am I capable of doing everything? If there’s any subject you had a hard time learning or couldn’t get a grasp of then you’re stupid by the way in which I’ve defined the word.


  • Lynne Spreen

    So many people think they’re the same word, but they’re not. Ignorant means you haven’t yet learned a specific thing yet. I’m sure many geniuses are ignorant of something or other.


  • fictionfitz

    Reblogged this on Writing Out Loud and commented:
    Something to think about and if you don’t read it, well, your……


  • kat

    actually, stupid has a specific definition. that shows underachieving due to lack of ability is the main part of the definition (although some factors would be able to be modified like not drinking to excess or not working to one’s potential), whereas ignorance
    is being in a state of not knowing or not comprehending a fact or reality. but one can become knowledgeable about things of which they were previously ignorant. if one is stupid, even being exposed to knowledge of a particular subject or tutoring for it, one simply may not have the ability to learn it, understand it.

    so being stupid ( (like the typical dullard) can only be sometimes remedied, but being ignorant can be completely remedied.


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