I’ve been guilty of using words like “stupid,” “thick” or “idiot” as insults before, but I don’t do it anymore.
I’ve been thinking about what we mean when we use these words. Stupid might be used to mean “low cognitive ability.” It seems pretty nasty to be unpleasant about people with low cognitive ability*. I find it incredibly distasteful. I don’t like it any more than when people call others ugly. In fact, it’s probably easier to become prettier than to increase your cognitive ability – plastic surgery is possible; brain upgrades are not.
I suspect the reason that in the past I’ve disliked the word ugly more than the word stupid, is that I was often called ugly as a teenager, but I’ve rarely been called stupid. I think a lot of people I know have experienced similar.
I’ve often used the word stupid to mean “high cognitive ability, but currently being very illogical”. We really need another word for that.
Another way in which it’s used is just as a nasty putdown, often directed by male geeks at women who are less intellectually confident at them.
Let’s stop using that word.
*To what extent low cognitive ability is innate/determined by childhood experiences is not something I want to go into now.