Friday, June 25, 2010

Ignorance versus stupidity

Ignorance and stupidity are not the same thing.  Some people may think it is so, but they are wrong.  Ignorant, if you will, of the difference.

You see, ignorance is the condition of being without knowledge of something.  It's not that one is incapable of knowing, it's just that they don't know due to a lack of exposure to the subject matter.  On occasion someone can get nabbed for speeding because they are ignorant with regards to the speed limit because they missed the sign where it dropped from 55 to 45.  Now, if the local law parked a truck in front of the lower speed limit sign in order to create the ignorance among non-locals, then that's completely unethical, probably illegal, and certainly grounds to get pretty pissed off.
Stupidity, on the other hand, is when information is provided and the capability for knowing or doing is there, but the stupid person just decides to not accept that capability.  Back to the our lead footed friend, had he seen the sign dropping the speed limit from 55 to 45 and just decided to keep rolling along at 55, that would be an example of stupidity, not ignorance.  He could plead ignorance, but likely won't get far on that count.
Another example would be someone who is illiterate for some reason or another.  They see a sign, they can't read it, they ask "what does that say?" not out of stupidity, but out of ignorance.  Now, right next to them is someone who CAN read who asks the same question "what does that say?" because of apparent stupidity, not ignorance.

More importantly, ignorance can be fixed with information.  If one person asserts "the laws are designed to catch criminals" and the other asserts "the way the laws have been crafted ensure that innocent people will be accused and detained without due process, and that violation of rights will fall disproportionately on minorities" you have an honest disagreement.  And then when the other states quite plainly "there is evidence that the laws, as they are crafted, are actually having that disproportionate effect right now" but the one states "that is simply not the case" you have a clear case of ignorance of the facts at hand.  But when that evidence is presented by the other to the one, and the one continues to insist that there is no disproportionate effect, then you have a case of ignorance morphing into stupidity before your very eyes.

You see, you can fix ignorance.  Ignorance is unintentional.

Stupidity, however, is intentional.  One must make a conscious decision to be stupid.

You can't fix stupid.