What is the difference between stupid and crazy?

Craziness is irrational, so what's the difference? Both involve a failure to function well. Is it that crazy serves a purpose, retroactively speaking? Or perhaps vice versa?

I doubt any philosopher has been blunt enough to ask this question, but can it be inferred from an analysis of intelligence and madness?

  • 3
    If you are stupid, then you study political science. If you are crazy, then you study philosophy. ;-)
    – nwr
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 18:52
  • ha, i laughed. crazy @NickR
    – user38026
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 18:52
  • 1
    they will say that you need a certain rep to vote to close, and that's why. it's doubly frustrating that the people that should be able to answer, close instead. it could be that expertise brings impatience @Eodnhoj7
    – user38026
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:35
  • 1
    This is a question about the English language. It's absolutely not on-topic here. If you disagree, you need to make absolutely clear how it's not a question about the English words "stupid" and "crazy". Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 22:34
  • 1
    Not about the dictionary definitions of words. Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 22:39

5 Answers 5


By modern medical standards stupid is just one kind of crazy. Processing impairments, developmental disorders and pervasive learning disabilities are listed alongside ailments that more selectively limit one's functioning. But these fall in a given part of the map of 'crazy', which is significantly different from the rest.

For one thing, consistency is a factor. The limitations that we naturally classify as stupid are generally permanent, or are of a nature one slowly and uniformly grows out of, just over a longer period of development that is ordinary, leaving a mark for live. But most other kinds of crazy are only sometimes crazy. An addict can't play out there addiction without something addictive to consume. A depressive won't always be depressed. All but the most serious of schizophrenics will have lucid periods during which they will be able to engage with all but a few topics about which they have very unusual opinions. People who really are always addictively driven, or always depressed, or always oppressed by the emptiness of catatonia will also exhibit a very low intellectual function even at the best of times, because they do not spend enough time interacting with the world to learn how to learn. They will be both.

For another, lots of mental disorders impose impairments that are very narrow. A phobia, or even a generalized anxiety disorder limits the things one can do without becoming afraid. The rest of life is not affected. As an extreme example, a paraphilia only affects sex, and only part of it. A lot of 'Axis II' disorders only dictate how you approach people. Once folks get used to you, or once you are engaged with just the people you can tolerate, life might just go on. (We are all pretty sure Trump is a narcissist (one of these Axis II disorders) and he managed to become President. The people who can tolerate him well seem to love him, and it doesn't keep him from getting what he wants done, done.)

  • Wait, so are you saying Trump is a bit crazy or some people have crazy thoughts about Trump being a narcissist? Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 23:54
  • @YukangJiang In my opinion Trump has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, (and I do have the training that entitles me to make such diagnoses, I just haven't held a license for twenty years). Some of the ways he handles people are just crazy, they are neither good for anyone else, nor productive for him. But as obvious as it is, it does not get in his way. You can be crazy and completely competent -- just not as competent as you would otherwise be.
    – user9166
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 23:56
  • @YukangJiang Mental disorder (crazy) is a quantity rather than a quality: It is not whether a symptom or behavior manifests in the tiniest amount, but to what extent and time frame it is manifest that determines a diagnoses. People can compensate and even utilize a little bit of crazy.
    – christo183
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 5:43
  • i agree with the answer, but wondered what you thought of the speculative answer in my question (retroactively not stupid)
    – user38026
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:41
  • @another_name It is likely that a reasonable number of mental disorders are not defects, but instead represent adaptations to past circumstances or excesses of a necessary trait that would play out differently in a past environment. If that is the question you mean. But there are so many separate adaptations and traits that no general overview would be interesting in our format. Besides, there is a separate SE for psychology.
    – user9166
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 22:38

I think "stupid" is due to lack of intelligence. On the other hand, "crazy" is related to a mental disorder. But both seem similar in some circumstances.


I would say “stupid” usually refers to people who don’t understand what’s already been proven or common knowledge. On the other hand, “crazy” refers to people who have irrational beliefs on things that haven’t been proven yet. You can be crazy about things that haven’t been proven, for example, by saying aliens gave us the ability to feel emotions. These beliefs are unlikely to be true, but the truth hasn’t been decided yet.

When referring to things that have already been proven or things that are known to make sense in some way, I would say “crazy” and “stupid” are similar.

  • the introduction of 'proof' is interesting, thanks
    – user38026
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:42

Stupid is allowing this opinionated not academically oriented thread, while putting referenced not opinionated questions on hold.

Stupid is looking through the answers and seeing no references and strict subjective opinion while deleting other comments for the following same reason.

Stupid is looking through the members having a thread put on hold and seeing the same names pop up continually.

Stupidity is saying something is vague, therefore if I do not understand it is wrong.

Crazy is the continuation of it.

Truth is the stupidest and craziest thing of it all.

In other words stupid and crazy are simply grounded in the symmetry between perspective and group agreement. A person is stupid or crazy if they do not share the same perspectives and patterns behavior of the group. The same applies inversely for groups.

Stupid and crazy are points of view, thus assumed. One implies a finite action, the other a course of actions, but both as assumed through the nature language contexts are reversible.

They effectively mean the same thing, as both are strictly contexts for expressing behavior which diverges from a group.

Stupid and crazy are ways of saying "the context as a perspective does not align with another context as a perspective.

  • Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement Mario Puzo
    – Rushi
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 1:46
  • .....What enemies?
    – Eodnhoj7
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:24

Let's put this in the simplest terms possible...

  • 'Stupidity' (a term I dislike) means that reasoning is inadequate: one does not form, follow, or implement reasoning well past some certain level of complexity. Miss a step in a sequence, and things fall apart; then one feels stupid.
  • 'Craziness' means that one reasons adequately, but from strange premises and presumptions. One can quite intelligently plan a safe route home on the assumption that stepping on a sidewalk crack will actually break one's mother's back, but that presumption is not quite right in the head.

The guy who shot people in that Walmart in El Paso was crazy, because he presumed that people would respond to that act of mass murder with approval, and that he would help achieve some presumptive collective goal. The guy who walked into a Walmart a few days later with an AR-15 (not because he was intent on shooting anyone, but just because...) was stupid, because he didn't think through the likely outcome of that act.

  • you need a reference for your second claim imho. i don't think you can subsume all madness under mistaken premises, anyway
    – user38026
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:39
  • 1
    @another_name - I didn't say 'mistaken'; I said 'strange'. That merely implies presumptions that deviate from cultural norms. Remember, someone who hears voices is only 'crazy' in a secular culture; in a religious culture, s'he is a prophet, or possessed by demons. Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 22:07
  • ah sorry my mistake... that's interesting thanks, let me think
    – user38026
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 22:13