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Ignorance vs. Denial (What’s the Difference?)

Ignorance vs. Denial (What’s the Difference?)

Many terms in the English language overlap and are often used interchangeably. Two of these terms are ignorance and denial.

While they both center around almost the same idea, they’re still very different when it comes to context. Knowing which to use when is a crucial part of being able to use them correctly.

Those who are fluent in the English language don’t have a problem with understanding the usage of these terms. However, those who are trying to learn this language may find it a bit difficult. With a myriad of terms discussing the same thing, it’s easy to get lost.

But don’t worry, as I’ve got you covered! In this article, I’ll be discussing all the differences between the terms ignorance and denial. We’ll also take a look at how each of these can be appropriately used through examples.

So let’s dive right in!

What is the Difference Between Ignorance and Denial?

Ignorance and denial are both somewhat similar, yet they’re also different in terms of contexts. One of the major differences between them is that with ignorance there’s a certain lack of knowledge. Whereas with denial there’s knowledge but that knowledge has been rejected.

Hence, one can’t be completely ignorant of something if they have the knowledge about it. Similarly, they can’t be in denial of something, if they don’t have the relevant knowledge about it. Therefore, it’s important for you to know about something to actually be in denial of it.

In the case of ignorance, one isn’t exposed to the truth about a particular matter. This is regardless of whether they want to know about that matter or not.

On the other hand, in the case of denial, one has already been exposed to the truth about the matter but they refuse to accept it as the truth and therefore “deny” it.

In most cases, denial is a way to avoid dealing with the stress and pain which comes with the acceptance of the truth. By their refusal to deal with this situation or even admit that something’s wrong, they’re trying to distract themselves from pain, conflict, anxiety, and fear.

With ignorance, there aren’t any such painful emotions because the person doesn’t know about the truth at all. They’re simply unaware.

What is the Difference Between Ignorance and Ignorant?

As you know by now, ignorance is simply being unaware or not having information about a certain matter. However, the word ignorant is an adjective used to describe people. It’s used to describe those who are in the state of being unaware of the important information or facts.

There could be many reasons why a person is ignorant. One could be that they’re not educated enough and another could be that they simply don’t want to learn about that matter.

In short, they’re both talking about the same thing but one is a noun, while the other is an adjective. You may use the term “ignorant” to describe a person who is in a state of “ignorance”.

Many people believe that ignorance says a lot about a person’s intelligence. Being ignorant is not a problem, because it’s when you don’t have any knowledge about the matter.

However, failing to recognize your ignorance may be limiting to your growth. It’s extremely hard to confront your own ignorance.

This is because, in today’s world, ignorance is associated with a lot of shame. Being unaware makes people feel insecure.

However, there is no core set of knowledge that everybody would share. Therefore, ignorance isn’t the problem.

Although, if you’ve realized your lack of knowledge and have the opportunity to educate yourself, then you should definitely jump on it. This would help you from being an ignorant person.

Person in therapy
A person in therapy.

What is the Difference Between Ignorance and Stupidity?

The difference between ignorance and stupidity is in terms of their definition. Ignorance can be described as not having information or not being able to comprehend the information.

Whereas, stupidity simply means that one has the knowledge of what’s right but still goes on to make the wrong decision. Stupidity indicates that a person is unable to understand something because they don’t have sufficient intelligence. This often leads to the misinterpretation of a fact.

Let’s take a look at an example to help understand better the difference between being ignorant and being stupid. For instance, for a person who’s never seen a car before, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t know how to drive it.

On the other hand, someone who’s already seen a car still won’t be able to drive one because they believe that they have to ask it to move in order to drive it.

In the former situation, a person can be given an explanation and they’ll be able to learn how to drive. However, in the latter situation, the person will never be able to drive it until they give up their notion about speaking to the car.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to differentiate between ignorance and stupidity. This is because an ignorant person might portray stupidity due to their inadequate knowledge of a situation.

However, exposure and experience will help remove their ignorance. Although, a stupid person may remain in such a way if they refuse to acquire knowledge. Therefore, it’s difficult to reform from stupidity.

Moreover, ignorance is often caused by circumstances in someone’s life. Whereas, stupidity is more so related to a person having an attitude problem or even a cognitive deficiency.

Here’s a table of example sentences using the terms stupid and ignorant:

IgnorantStupid
Everyone in the community seems blissfully ignorant of the problems.Julie is too stupid to realize that the car door is locked.
I was ignorant of the traffic laws in the country, but I was fined regardless. His lack of information in the biology presentation just made him look stupid.
I hope this helps in understanding!

What is the Nature of Denial?

For many, “denial is a form of coping mechanism. It’s basically anything that a brain does to safeguard oneself against reality. It’s when someone refuses to give themselves the time to adjust to the inevitable consequences.

Basically, it’s a form of self-protection when they’re not ready to deal with the situation. A person goes into denial in order to avoid blame or even deny an idea that may conflict with their own beliefs.

The nature of denial may be fear, shame, and regret. It’s the unwillingness to take up true responsibility and to deal with the consequences of their actions.

In order to avoid all that, one lies to themselves as well as others. Denial is used by many people to shield themselves from change. It’s always easier to stay in denial rather than accept change because people find it uncomfortable.

It’s rooted in a person’s insecurities as it’s able to question the entirety of who a person actually is, their self-image, and consciousness, and even makes them question their purpose in the world.

The problem with denial I s that it prevents people from making the necessary changes when they face problems in reality. This is because the problem will still exist even if you refuse to accept it.

Denial never lets a person achieve their goals. Accepting a bitter reality may be hard but it’s better.

Accept change
Accepting change can make them question their existence.

What Are Some Examples of Denial?

There are many examples of a person being in denial. The most common one is related to a loved one’s death.

Denial is used to preserve stories and avoid pain. Death is uncomfortable and brings immense pain to someone who has recently lost their loved one.

Therefore, a person goes into denial as a coping mechanism because it’s easier for them to believe that their loved one is still alive than to accept that they’re no longer in this world.

On a lighter note, another example can be that a boy has broken his toe while playing football. Now because he loves the game so much, he refuses to accept that he’s in pain.

Accepting that he’ll no longer be able to play would mean to him that he’s no longer useful to the team. Therefore, he denies his obvious injury in the hope that he can continue to play alongside his team members.

The concept of denial is typically used when trying to prove something false but it has already been proven true.

Here’s a video on the psychology of denial:

It’s pretty informative!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the main takeaways from this article are:

  • The terms ignorance and denial revolve around almost the same concept but differ in terms of contexts.
  • Ignorance means to lack of knowledge about a certain matter. Whereas, denial means having the knowledge about the matter but refusing to accept it.
  • The term ignorant is an adjective used to describe someone who is unaware or uneducated about something.
  • Stupidity is related to having the knowledge but not being able to comprehend it correctly or still making the wrong decisions.
  • Denial is a form of coping mechanism which people use to protect themselves from harsh reality.

I hope this article helps you differentiate between the terms ignorance and denial.

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