A Man Mocked His Self-Taught Cousin for Not Having the Same Level of Scientific Knowledge as Him, but His Cousin Accused Him of Being an Elitist

A man was deeply passionate about science and had even landed himself a career as a scientist. He very much enjoyed conversing about the subject, but he would soon discover that his passion would make some people view him rather negatively. 

Scientific Bubbles

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Being a scientist, the man was often surrounded by other people passionate about science. “Many of my friends and contacts clearly belong in the same bubble I’m in”, he stated. “However, I am also friends with people who do not have anything to do with science, and I think they have valuable skillsets that are different to mine.”

The Cousin’s Journey

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The man’s cousin, a 31-year-old who initially studied political science, decided to pivot his career toward data science due to job dissatisfaction. He embarked on a self-taught journey, studying calculus, programming, and statistics.

A Friendly Question

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During a casual gathering with the scientist’s cousin and a friend, the topic shifted to education and knowledge. The conversation took an unexpected turn when the scientist posed a seemingly straightforward question: how many grams would 10ml of water weigh?

The Cousin Was Stumped

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To the scientist’s surprise, his cousin couldn’t answer. He began offering hints, but this proved fruitless, and the man’s cousin remained stumped. 

A Mocking Reaction

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The scientist visibly expressed his amazement. “I mentioned that I thought this was basic knowledge that people get taught in elementary school”, he wrote. The cousin was upset by this statement, as he believed that the scientist was mocking him. 

The Cousin’s Accusation

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The scientist’s cousin called him an elitist and told him that he shouldn’t tease people just because he lived in a bubble. The cousin also mentioned that he knew many things that he took for granted, that the scientist wouldn’t know and would have no need to know.  

The Scientist’s Belief

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The scientist explained how he responded to this statement: “I agreed, but stated that I didn’t lack such basic knowledge in any “basic” area of life. I started listing examples of “basic” knowledge that I think is indispensable for an adult, such as how money works, knowing a foreign language, using a computer, and so on.”

Elitist Accusations

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Once again, the scientist’s cousin called him an elitist and began to list off areas of knowledge that he knew that the scientist didn’t understand. However, the scientist was not impressed: “The examples he gave were coming from topics he studied at university, not knowledge taught to first graders as I was talking about”, he claimed. 

An Insincere Apology

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In an attempt to diffuse the situation, the scientist apologized, and everyone moved on from the conversation. However, the apology was not sincere: “I honestly did think and mean the things I said”, the man admitted. 

Seeking Validation

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The scientist headed online to consult a forum, seeking validation for his strong opinion. However, readers were quick to criticize the man, as his post was ironically riddled with spelling errors. “Judging by the fact that you don’t know the difference between taught and thought, I would stop worrying about what other people know”, laughed one reader. 

More Accusations of Elitism

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Almost everyone took the side of the man’s poor cousin. “Knowing “basic” knowledge does not make you more successful in life or make you a more well-rounded individual”, someone stated. “Honestly, you do sound like an elitist, and you shouldn’t have pressed your cousin.”

Thinking Over Facts 

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Interestingly, a college professor joined in on the debate, criticizing the man’s obsession with facts. “Teaching students to care about learning, and to have critical thinking skills is far more important than facts”, they wrote. “For example, if you told your friend a liter of milk weighed 100kg, I want him to have alarm bells going off in his head.”

Treating Adults Like Children

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The overall conclusion from the man’s readers was that he had acted out of line. “You sound like a total jerk, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is questioning an adult like they are a child in class”, accused another commenter. “Everyone has gaps in their education, and everyone forgets things because they never use them.”

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