When I was still in high school, I took a Latin course. One day we were translating a text about a volcanic eruption and the (male) author mentioned that the cloud rising over the volcano consisted of black ashes and white sand.
I objected to that, stating that it must have been water vapour - to which the (also male) teacher replied: “Then why would the author say that it was white sand?”
Me: “He made a mistake.”
Teacher: “No. He was there, he saw it with his own eyes. If he says it was sand, it was sand.”
Me: “But back then volcanoes hadn’t been studied scientifically, so people had no way of knowing what those clouds consisted of. To the author it looked like white sand, but it wasn’t white sand. It was water vapour.”
Teacher: “And where in the world would water come from inside a volcano?”
Me: “Rainwater? Where would *white sand* come from inside a volcano?”
Teacher: “Well, if you dig in the Netherlands, you eventually encounter sand, too. Now let’s continue with our translation.”
Me: (frustratedly thinking) And the Netherlands are totally a volcanic region…
The next day I presented this teacher with a diagram of the structure of a typical volcano that I copied from a dictionary and that was distinctly lacking in any sandy strata. I also read to him a list of the components that can be found in clouds produced by volcanoes.
Main component? Water vapor.
*Not* a component? Sand of any colour.
Teacher’s reaction? “Well, I’m a Latin teacher, I can’t know everything.”
Yet most certainly a modern day female high school student has to be wrong when she questions the validity of an ancient male’s vulcanological observations.