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Difference Between Ignorance and Stupidity

ignoranceIgnorance vs Stupidity

The intrinsic difference is that ignorance simply implies lack of awareness about something, while stupidity denotes the inability of a person to understand something due to insufficient intelligence, thus leading to the misinterpretation of a fact.

For instance, a person who has never seen an automobile would not know how to drive it, because of no exposure to such a thing. A stupid person, on the other hand, might have seen automobiles, but would still not be able to drive one, because he imagines that in order to move it you have to speak to it and ask it to move!

This implies that, while in the former case when the person is given an explaination as to how to make an automobile move, he may learn to drive it; the latter will never be able to drive until he gives up his stupid notion about how an automobile moves. An ignorant person might exhibit stupidity because of inadequate understanding of a situation, and exposure and experience will remove his or her ignorance, thus ensuring that the person no longer remains either ignorant or stupid. A stupid person, on the other hand, is also ignorant, because his or her stupidity prevents the him from acquiring the knowledge, and this means that such a person is likely to remain stupid and ignorant.

A person is ignorant mainly because of the circumstances of his or her life, whereas a stupid person is stupid either because of an attitude problem which prevents such a person from learning from his or her environment and the peer group, or due to a mental deficiency. For instance, if the son of a tribal chief from the Congo Basin is given an education at the best schools and universities of the world, he may not display the ignorance (of the western world) like his forefathers, and end up as a rocket scientist or a professor, while the son of an oil empire owner in the US may, because of having everything so easy in his life, do stupid things like drugs, and waste his life.

No region or type of people have a monopoly on either ignorance or stupidity. While ignorance is caused by the same set of factors worldwide, namely a lack of exposure or experience, stupidity is also a matter of perception. People living in the tropics often wear light colored clothing because of the hot weather, and the need to reflect back the strong rays of the sun. The people living in cold places, on the other hand, prefer dark clothing because of the need to absorb sun light. Now, if they were to go to each others’ country and find the locally prevalent sartorial style stupid, you might put that down to ignorance!


1. Ignorance implies a lack of awareness, while stupidity implies the inability to understand.

2. Ignorance can be removed by the acquisition of knowledge, while a stupid person is intrinsically so, and therefore difficult to reform.

3. Ignorance is caused by the circumstances of one’s life, whereas stupidity is due to an attitude problem or mental deficiency in the person concerned.

4. While the reasons of ignorance are universally the same, stupidity is often defined by one’s perception of what comprises stupidity.

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  1. Speaking of ignorance vs. stupidity: It’s not “explaination.” It’s “explanation.”

    • @SR

      The only stupidity I see is the English language for being such a mess.. I mean, why is the “i” in “explanation” missing anyways? Just to throw people off? I’m going to spell it as “explaination” from now on simply out of spite.

      • It’s not pronounced explain-ation it’s pronounced explan-ation that’s you explain some by giving an explanation not an explaination

        That’s why jackass

      • Can we please educate people in a way that they understand fact and not insults about the person lack of understanding. If you know how frustrating it must be to have no understanding of what most people look down and make fun it’s so hard to embrace learning if smart people is using what they know to intimidate the less fortunate one.. it’s either they embrace the label that their stupid or they have no hope for understanding things too complicated for them but most educated people used their intellect to spread ridicule towards less fortunate ones. We’re all ignorant and stupid in someway what’s the point of knowledge if it use to tolerate hate.

  2. SR … I’m trying to decide if you are ignorant or stupid for not allowing for a typographical error. But, then, perhaps you never make them. That remark is truly condescending .

  3. stop fighting over peity shit

  4. I don’t agree. The connotation of ignorance is much stronger as it is used when alluding to racism, sexism and things of that nature. Ignorance implies that sometimes one chooses to act without using information.

    • No dear – that is the very definition of stupidity. Politely meant as a fact –

    • Actually, ignorance implies that one chooses or doesn’t choose to act because they lack the information needed to make an informed decision. Not because of information they already possess. That would be stupidity.

  5. writergrl – you bring up a good point. Very often, information that would relieve a person of his or her ignorance is not welcomed by that person because of the uncomfortable feelings of cognitive dissonance it generates. Though I cannot say for certain, it would seem that the author is implying that willful ignorance, i.e., the deliberate rejection of new information, equates to stupidity, which would be to over-simplify the problem, in my view.

    • I very much agree with you. In most cases one can decide to play ignorant to avoid situation or some people in certain circumstances.

    • I think accepting someone’s denial of fact, can be transposed to Galileo’s time and problematic.
      At that time most denied what was true.
      But the majority -and or people having power- deny it anyway.
      Keep your people ignorant to keep power.

      But you still nowadays having people denying Earth’s form.

  6. Since the word ignorance is from (Original Word) ignore…and ignore means to “refuse to take notice” or “reject as ungrounded”
    My feelings are that one would have to be AWARE of something to ignore or reject it. Yes?
    Making that the difference between stupid ( a lack of knowledge or awareness of something) and ignorance.

    Now yes, many dictionaries list ignorance a having the same meaning as stupid…and my IGNORANCE of their definition does quality me as IGNORANT….It doesn’t make me stupid.

    There are so many other things about me that quantify that assessment 🙂

    • Very well put! I have struggled with someone whose ignorance seems to stem from a dogged refusal to accept the nuances of a situation. This person complains that I think she is stupid. In fact, her ignorance frustrates me, because I have tried and tried to get her to recognize the way out of certain dilemmas in our shared work, yet she cannot seem to put them into practice. She does not recall similar situations and how we solved them. This seems to me to be a form of ignorance. I have given up on teaching her the problem-solving skills. But she is far from stupid. She just can’t triangulate disparate facts and come up with a game plan.

    • @ Frank. I think you are assuming that the word “ignore” has retained its original use over the centuries thus qualifying someone who is “ignorant” as someone who “ignores” knowledge.

      But look at the etymology of the word = ignore comes from Latin in (not) + gnarus (know, be acquainted with, skilled)

      Which would simply mean – someone who does not know, or someone who is not skilled – the same way “ignorant” is being defined in the article.

  7. Seems to me that the article actually said you can’t fix stupid.

  8. Y’all ignorant

  9. It sounds more like ignorance has to do with deliberately ignoring the state of things. Stupidity may or may not be a product of that ignorance. The ignorance may be the product of a stupid decision to ignore the state of things.I say they are pretty much the same thing. I would however debate the difference between naivete, and ignorance. I believe ignorance has a certain deliberateness to it. Naivete is relatively clueless about consequences.

  10. So this is all a bunch of hooey in my opinion. The word ignorant comes from the Latin ignorare as in to ignore…so that would imply that you are ignorant because you choose to ignore facts. The word stupid comes from the Latin stupere meaning to be amazed or stunned…as if you had no idea and thus startled by something. So I think these opinions are mixed up. But all and all, I agree with Marcie… pretty much the same thing these days. Language evolves and because soooooo many people can’t appreciate the VERY subtle nuance it’s not even worth debating.

  11. Stupid is as stupid does! Life is like a box of chocolates! Glad the fights over.
    In a 100 years it won’t matter. Sorry no big words here.

    • I must be stupid. “Stupid is as stupid does” always seemed like a stupid remark to me. My ignorance as to the intent of this remark led me to research such and, still not appreciating ( nor understanding) the implied simplicity, directness and wit in such after doing so, left me with the conclusion I must be stupid as to the meaning. Since I attempted to understand ( but don’t) thus eliminating ignorance, leaves me to draw no other conclusion than I must be stupid. Or, I simply think it’s a stupid remark in itself.

  12. only to lose time about this is stupid and to lose time like me a ignorant Be happy and get to love one way the world and People, with love il Princioe

  13. Amazing how in this world ignorance uses intelligence for its own further meant

  14. I disagree the concept of stupidity that its “inability to understand ” due to less intelligence, It seem like overgeneralization , its quitety big including even crazy people . Again the definition don’t acknowledge the presence of talented peole and gifted people , according to writer talented people would be stupid.

  15. I am honestly wondering if the original author has had any further thoughts on this.

    I live in a 3rd world country and see people repeatedly doing stupid things on a massive scale that are detrimental to themselves and others in the community. They often seem to totally reject simple, sound logic and seem very determined to not change their ways.

    I would have used to say “experience is a great teacher”, but it seems with many, negative experiences teach them nothing at all and almost seem to reinforce stupid practices and ideas. There is great wisdom in the world from peoples past success and failures, but there often seems to be a refusal to learn, which means people are destined to repeat certain behaviours.

    There is actually a bible verse that asks the question, “how long oh simple ones will you’ve simplicity”. The love of simplicity is often connected to an avoidance of responsibility. If we avoid responsibility we simply will never mature, or be very slow to mature.

    We can have what we want in this modern world, we might have to work hard to get it, but we can have it. So do simple or stupid people want to be as they are? I doubt anyone would honestly say “I am stupid”, so do they think the way they think is OK? If so, how can this change?

    If you avoid or can’t receive instruction or correction you won’t learn or you will hinder learning in that area.

    Pride, arrogance can be factors in resisting learning.

    Is foolishness or stupidity a form of self deceit?

    If there is no desire to learn, then very little can be learnt. How can that desire to learn be switched on if it is not there?

    Anyway, there are a few thoughts, just wondering if you have had anymore yourself.

  16. Well written!

  17. I believe both words have similar meaning depending on the person or persons in question and the situation in which they are involved.everyone makes a good point .sometimes individuals use one or both as it were to negotiate or manipulate a situation or another person or persons ,er goes cunning deception

  18. Great I leave only this belief of my perception of human behavior, yes torn between retarded or stupidity for the word of the day left me searching Websters for a definitive answer. Nothing can compare to stupid because of its a choice, a decision made by a individual who demonstrates a lack of knowledge while having the necessary knowledge. Retarded became the word of the day no fault of its own thanks to being stupid sounds to nice.

  19. Ignorance is something we all possess. There’s not a person on earth that knows everything.
    Stupidity is having the ability to be educated but don’t want to

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