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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.”

  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.

  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.

  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 :-)

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