Fairytale Genetics

Will Pooley

So by now you’ve seen the story doing the rounds online about how fairytales are much older than researchers thought, as proved by ‘phylogenetic analyses’.

Us humanities scholars should be darn grateful we have those scientists to save us from our misconceptions!

Or not.


This isn’t the first time that folklorists have found their subject matter making a big splash in the international news.

Let’s be clear about this point: folklorists are THE experts on oral narratives, such as fairy tales. They have developed tools and methods for studying this material, but the clickbait stories about ‘myth’ and ‘fairy tales’ often ignore this expertise, preferring dramatic accounts of undiscovered materials.

Um, no, 500 ‘new’ fairytales were not ‘discovered‘ in Germany in 2012. For a start, the materials in question had actually been published before. And this is without taking into account the point that these tales are…

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