• Pauline Hoffmann

Faeries, Fables, Fairy Tales

Folklore and more!


This week we bid adieu to producer Bryce Murphy. It was the first podcast Data Doyenne recorded, edited and uploaded on her own. There are some kinks that need to be worked out, but I think I did pretty well.


I welcomed a very special guest, former student and current colleague/friend, Hannah Gordon. We talked all things Fairy and Wee Folk.


Fairy is Latin for "fate." Fairy lore is common in many parts of the world. Fairies, as defined by Lessons in History on Medium, are:

Mystical characters that had the power to do good and evil. In fairy folklore, mostly fairies were mischievous and indulged in tomfoolery. The origin of fairies dates to Greek mythology, where fairies were referred to as Nymphs. These nymphs protected the face of Mother Earth.


It was agreed by both of us that "tomfoolery" is a word that really should make its way into more common usage.


I am happy to report that there are Data Fairies. There is also someone who is as interested in data and applying it to everyday and historical topics as I am. Please have a look at this What-If piece that tries to determine how many fairies have been born and how many still exist. The answer may surprise you. What surprised me is that someone actually took the time to do this. I think we should be BFFs. The article includes the following graph noting the biomass of humans and fairies:



Many cultures reference fairies, fairy tales and/or fables. We are likely most familiar with European tales from the Brothers Grimm and/or Hans Christian Andersen. Google Earth has a wonderful visual with associated information regarding different fairy tales and fables from around the world.


As with many fables and myths, there may be an element of truth to them. For example, it is believed that Snow White was either a woman with an evil stepmother, star-crossed lover, and seeker of refuge with little people in a mine or the daughter of a mirror factory owner (Wonderopolis and Insider, respectively).


Fairy tales have some common elements worldwide. For example, many have an element of magic or include the power of three (more on that next week!). How Stuff Works details some of these elements.


This week's Arbitrary Random Stat (ARS) is not really a stat at all but is an Aesop's Fable. It does have an element of an ass - it's titled The Lion, The Fox, and the Ass. Read it and adhere to its moral.

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