Sometimes a person responds to a statement he or she knows of nothing. Yes, it might be best to just shut-up. Say nothing as if you are deaf. Plead ignorance. Just an uhha and nothing else. A quick nod of the head is often sufficient.
I boarded a flight leaving Boston that was headed to Dallas. The flight attendant took my boarding pass and showed me to my seat. A seat on the aisle and sitting next to who appeared to be a professional looking woman and probably about thirty-fivish. She was settled in her place and reading a book. I placed my carry-on in the overhead and sat down. After a moment of settling in myself I asked her what she was reading. She told me it was a book on astronomy. Then she goes on and says she teaches astronomy and headed to Arizona where there is a world class observatory in the hills somewhere between Tucson and Phoenix.
Now here is where things went completely wrong due to total abject and blatant ignorance. Instead of letting this go I ask her where she teaches astronomy. So she told me with complete confidence, “I teach astronomy at Wellesley.”
Then I say and shouldn’t have, “oh is that a boy’s prep-school here in Boston?”
Immediately she returned to reading her book. End of conversation. Have a nice flight Chuck.
Need I say what Wellesley is? I later discovered Wellesley is a highly regarded and prestigious women’s college in the Boston area. Well, just shut my mouth!