Shocked People Reveal The Most Ignorant Thing They Actually Heard Someone Say.

"There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns the ones we don't know we don't know." - Donald Rumsfeld


This piece is based on a Quora question. Link on the last page.

1. So I'm walking home Friday fromthe library and I see an elderly woman trying to get down stairs, carryinggroceries.

I offer her my arm and to carrythe groceries for her. She thanks me and I tell her she reminds me of mygrandmother, who was also fiercely independent. I miss Savta, she was not akind lady, but she was very inspiring.

"Well, you'll see her inheaven if youre Christian," she says.

I say nothing.

"You do believe in heaven,right?" she asks.

I tell her no, I'm secular.

That was when she actually gaveme a rant about how secular people have no morality and don't even know thebible. "Were you even taught the Ten Commandments?" she asked in asuperior tone.

"In two languages, includingthe original," I inform her. "I was raised Jewish." I can rattlethem off in full on demand in Hebrew and English.

"Jewish people killedJesus," she said as we arrive at her car. "That's why God punishedthem with the Holocaust." Again, she said this while Im carrying her groceries with one hand and helping her down thestreet with the other.

I am proud to say I didn'taccidentally drop her groceries. I'm very proud of myself for not losing mytemper.

I did leave her groceries by thecar and say "Well, I hope you get home safely." But I was shakingwith rage as I walked away.

My grandmother survived Auschwitz.

Elke Weiss

2. At the end of the semester, one of my professors invited us to her placefor a class picnic. Since her area of research was communism in Vietnam, shemarked the picnic spot with a communist flag tied to a large shrub in the frontof her apartment.

The picnic was going pretty smoothly when suddenly we heard a violent crackingnoise. (continued...)

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We turned around to see someone pulling the flag off the shrub. A few ofus ran down to retrieve it from the middle-aged lady who was angrily hauling itaway.


This is, of course, untrue and we knew it. Our professor calmly told thelady why the flag was there and asked for it back.


Very politely, my professor said, "Could I please have my property back,maam?"


We students were just kind of dazed.

Then, suddenly, the lady re-emerged carrying a very large American flagon a pole and started waving it around, declaring:


Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

3. My ex-wifes aunts husband told me in all seriousness that he gotbetter gas mileage driving north to south because he was going downhill. Justlook at globe, son.

As far as I am concerned, this is a step beyond Flat Earthers. He couldaccept that the world was round, but couldnt deal with gravity.

Kent Beck

4. I am a Civil War buff. My grandfatheris 87. My ex-wife asked me once if he actually fought in the "Silver"war, andif that was the reason for my great interest. I had to explain to her severaltimes that my grandfather was only 87 and the "Silver"war was fought 150 yearsago.

Finally she got angry and told me very sternly that, if that was the case,there was no wayhe could havefought in it. Duh

John Brooks

5. I was having lunch at a small restaurant in Dallas. When I handed thewaitress my credit card she saw my name and said:

"Huh, thats an interesting name, what kind of Mexican are you?" (continued...)

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I was a bit confused and said, Im not sure what youre asking.

She responded You know are you a Guatemalan Mexican, SalvadoreanMexican, you know, what kind of Mexican?

Instead of being a jerk I decided to engage her in conversation (thediner was pretty slow). I explained where my family was from and we got totalking about travel. Theres a difference between being ignorant and beingclosed-minded.

Harsh Karmarkar

6. A woman in my office, a college-educated manager at that, was speakingwith a colleague of mine who was moving to Europe.

This manager asks, "What are you going to do for food in Germany? Dothey even have refrigerators?"

My friend was looking at her waiting for confirmation that this was ajust a joke. It never came.

Nicole Neuman

7. I actually met a flat-earther.

They first started talking about how silver is the cure to cancer, whichis according to him a fungus. He told me the moon landings were a hoax and saidthat the earth is encircled by Antarctica and the government guards theoutside. He also asserted that the Sun rotates around the Earth.

Ben Weissman

8. I was teaching a high school class, and we were discussing the U.S.invasion of Iraq. Students were discussing their various thoughts on thesituation.

One student stated, very loudly, You know what really bothers me? Allthose people who are shouting and holding up signs in IraqWhy aren't theyspeaking English?

I explained that it is unreasonable to expect people in a foreigncountry to protest in another country's language. She didn't understand what Imeant, and the class was trying to explain to her that Arabic is the languageof the people who were protesting.

After a while, I stopped everyone and asked her where she thought "thosepeople" lived. (continued...)

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She said, "I don't knownear Arizona?"

She was confusing the Middle East with the American Midwest.

She's old enough to vote now.

Elizabeth Knight

9. Some of the questions my high school classmates asked me when they findout I was born in Nigeria were astounding.

Wow, that must have been a bigadjustment coming to America. You know finally having clothes and everything.

So did you guys sleep in trees and huts?

There are no roads right?

Is it hard to actually have to care about your hygiene?

Did you see lions like all the time?

I don't blame them for being ignorant, it's probably just the way theywere raised.

Itore Olorunda

10. Just before my fifteenth birthday, while on holiday, I got really sick.My mother took me to the ER at a hospital in Joliet, Illinois.

When dealing with payment, the nurse asked my mother about our insurance.My mother produced a card that said that my father was a British diplomat inNew York and that the UK government would pay for any medical expenses incurredin the US.

The nurse looked at the card and said, "I've never heard of thisinsurance company before." She then proceeded to phone someone; it was one ofthose occasions when one could hear what was being said by the person at theother end.

And thank God, because it was one of the stupidest (and funniest) phone calls I've ever heard. (continued...)

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Nurse: I have this card and it says the patient is indemnifiedagainst medical costs by the United Kingdom. I've never heard of the UnitedKingdom insurance company. Can you help me with it?

Woman at other end of the line: So you know how Canada isnt part of the US?Its another country, right? So is the United Kingdom. The UK is the country wewon independence from.

Nurse: Oh, good to know!

Charles Stuart

11. The other day in geography class, we were working on an assignment aboutmajor religions. While the boy sitting me behind me was copying down thedefinition for Christianity, he tapped me on the shoulder and asked, clearlyconfused, "Jesus was Jewish?"


"But I thought he was a Christian."

"No, he was Jewish."

"Oh. Okay. Pause. Does thatmake me Jewish?"

"No, you see, all the people whofollowed and believed his teachings are called Christians."

"Okay. But then what are Catholics?"

"Catholics are Christians, too."

This wouldhave been less shocking if he wasnt a lifelong Catholic whoattended church twice a week.

Christine Baik

12. I have a friend; well call her Veronica. Veronica is educated,intelligent, generous, kind, funny, employed. Shes a good mom. She is veryinvolved in her kids lives, attends school functions, helps them with theirhomework, takes them on camping trips, disciplines appropriately. She ismarried to their father, Mark, an educated man with a law degree.

Here is where it gets ignorant. (continued...)

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Veronica is Black. Her husband is Mexican. Mark has a gaysister that lives with her wife. Veronicas best friend is a lesbian.

Last week, Veronica was flabbergasted to learn that before a SupremeCourt decision in 1968 interracial marriage was illegal in many states.

Veronica voted for Donald Trump. Gleefully, I might add. It makes myhead hurt.

Emily Cohen

13. I recently went to a play about racial inequality. After the show, therewas a talkback with the cast. The facilitator of the talkback asked theaudience if they had any questions or comments about the show.

An older woman raised her hand.

"When I was growing up, we called em negroes. We used to have one whocleaned our house. I tried to teach her French, but she didnt want to learn.That was their problem. They didnt want to learn anything."

One of the cast members raised his hand.

"When my grandmother was growing up, she was a Black maid for a whitefamily. She spent her entire life being told she wasnt worth enough to teachand that learning was a waste of her time. She was told that what she saiddidnt matter. Why would she want to learn? She didnt think anyone shouldwaste their time teaching her.

"Im not saying that means your experience is invalid, but there aredifferent perspectives. We should talk about all of them. Thank you for yourcomment."

The woman in that audience may have been near the top of the list of themost ignorant people. But because the facilitator and the cast didnt shoot herdown or berate her, she had a chance to learn.

Jordan Yates


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