Talk:Green children of Woolpit

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What?[edit]

"Henry II was expelling Flemish mercenaries, not the merchants and weavers who had lived in England for generations, and few wives followed war, along with their children"

What on Earth does "along with their children" refer to in the above sentence? Richerman (talk) 00:14, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I'd guess it means that the wives of the Flemish mercenaries very sensibly didn't usually follow their husbands to war, and neither did their children. Malleus Fatuorum 00:31, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Paranormal.about.com version[edit]

There is an alternate version of the story on paranormal.about.com:

In 1887, two small children were found alone near the town of Banjos, Spain. But these were no ordinary children who had been lost or abandoned by parents. They were discovered by field hands who were distracted from their work by frightened cries. Upon investigation, they found a small boy and girl, scared and crying, huddled near the entrance to a cave. Their language was unknown to the workers - it certainly wasn't Spanish. More mysterious still, they wore clothes made of a strange metallic cloth... and their skin had an odd green tint.
After being taken to the village to be cared for, the boy soon died since it was difficult to get either of them to eat anything. But the girl survived, and when at last she was able to communicate in Spanish with her caregivers, she told them that she and her brother had come from a place that had no sun, but a land of perpetual twilight. When asked how they came to be at the cave, she said that they had heard a loud bang, were pushed through "something," and then were in the cave.

Not sure of their sources, or if the editor simply made the changes to make the story more recent. But it is obviously the same story. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 199.227.119.131 (talk) 17:40, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

The story of the Green Children of Banjos is a hoax. The events said to have occurred in 1887 in the Spanish village of “Banjos” (there is no such place to be found in a gazetteer of Spain, and perhaps we should read it as the common place-name “Baños” (“baths” or “spa”)) were popularised by Charles Berlitz in his book Charles Berlitz's World of the Incredible but True in 1991. They seem to have their origin in a chapter “Were these children from another world?” in a US paperback on unsolved mysteries, Strange Destinies, written by John Macklin (“internationally recognised expert in psychic phenomena” according to the book cover) in 1965. Macklin’s account (pp 23-6) is nothing more than a bogus updating and translocation to Spain of the Woolpit story – complete with a local landowner called “Ricardo de Calno” as a Hispanic stand-in for Suffolk’s Richard de Calne. For example, William of Newburgh’s comment on the story “I was so overwhelmed by the weight of so many competent witnesses that I have been compelled to accept it...” (exactly as it appears in Joseph Stevenson’s 1861 translation) is put into the mouth of a priest who comes from Barcelona to investigate the occurrence. Whether Macklin invented the story himself, or was misled by an informant, is another question. 86.186.227.228 (talk) 15:28, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Miscellaneous[edit]

I've plowed through all the hits in Google Books for "green children" and woolpit, and discarded most of the results. I found three that look useful, esp. in offering explanations (actually, mostly accounts of explanations) and parallels (to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight).

  • this is something, but not much.
  • A bit on the children in a book on SGGK by Derek Brewer. The three references (Stevenson 1875, Dickins 1934, Briggs 1976) are interesting, since they are not in the bibliography yet, but unfortunately Google Books doesn't give me the book's bibliography. I'll see if we have it in our library--we do, and with a bit of luck I can check it out tomorrow.
  • Another summary by Nicholas Orme, whose work is already cited. See also this note, mentioning Gerald of Wales.

As for Google News:

Re Briggs, I have a copy of British Folk Tales by Katharine Briggs, 1977. Pages 158-159 are about The Green Children. LadyofShalott 03:21, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
Even better! I found in Google Books the Hartland work that Briggs quotes for the entirety of her Green Children section mentioned above. LadyofShalott 04:05, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
...And the source that Hartland copied is Keightley (who, of course is quoting Ralph and citing William). LadyofShalott 04:23, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

BBC[edit]

BBC radio ran a story on this in June of 2010 with Richard Mabey and Susannah Clapp.Smallman12q (talk) 15:35, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

They did, but so what? Malleus Fatuorum 18:57, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Well that means that if a noteworthy establishment such as the BBC runs a story on it then in a way it is not ignored completely (and so being complete nonsense etc) and it signifies that still now it brings attention and interest to people and that perhaps it might get more investigations etc — Preceding unsigned comment added by 94.236.207.118 (talk) 15:41, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Explanations in question[edit]

The historical explanation discards this: "When they learned English they explained that they were from the ‘Land of St Martin’ which was a dark place because the sun never rose far above the horizon. They claimed that they were tending their father’s herd and followed a river of light when they heard the sounds of bells – finding themselves in Woolpit" which I found from another site, if of course this account of them saying this is 100 percent true - if". Where is this land where the sun never rises high - is it even real, why would the kids say such a thing? This seems in line somewhat with the phenomenon of dimensional and time slips - many accounts exists of this happening throughout the ages up to modern times; the latest of which appeared in an episode of sci fi science with Michio Kaku (a very popular physicist), who acknowledged it (this modern account was an old woman suddenly appearing in a bathroom in a mall or something - she appears while another woman is entering the bathroom and the mysterious woman was blocking her path - the perplexed woman was right next to the appearing woman and witnessed the whole thing. What is even more mysterious is that the appearing woman herself seemed puzzled and just left afterwards. This event seems much more believable as there have been a significant number of similar events happening, so is not an isolated case. By the way, questioning whether or not the appearing woman recent event is real or not is ridiculous and a waste of time since it was very well verified - there is a fine line when skepticism become obsessive and goes into chaos, out of order - most of all when it ignores logic. Ignorance while safe and ensures an uncomplicated life, doesn't stimulate the intellect. It is obvious that there are things which we don't understand — Preceding unsigned comment added by Smart Nomad (talkcontribs)

The article doesn't ignore that, it's covered in the Story section. But as the article says, there are only two near contemporary accounts of the green children, and the authors of each do not agree on many of the details. As for the "dimensional and time slips", we'd need to see a reliable source proposing that as a solution before adding it to the article. Malleus Fatuorum 00:39, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Paragraph about Duncan Lunan is all about the theories of a single person, therefore as per WP:UNDUE, this should be shrunk somewhat, to perhaps one single sentence plus a link.Hughperkins (talk) 03:25, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Duncan Lunan has now set out his theories in full in his book Children from the Sky: A Speculative Treatment of a Mediaeval Mystery... (London: Mutus Liber, 2012). Personally I find his 'extraterrestrial' explanation unacceptable, but in justice reference should be made to the book, with its fully-developed arguments, not to his original short Analog article. And surely it's an 'Historical explanation' (sort of) - shouldn't it be under that heading, not under 'Folklore' or tagged on as an afterthought at the end of 'The story'? Anyone care to take it on? John A Clark (talk) 12:21, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

I can't work out when and who by the long paragraph about Jeffrey Jerome Cohen was inserted. Could someone explain why his theory deserves so much space? It may explain why William of Newburgh used the story (but I'm not convinced) - it is certainly not an explanation of the 'green children' or of the origin of the story, and it doesn't belong under 'Folklore'. John A Clark (talk) 12:21, 1 March 2013 (UTC) - see below under heading 'Jeffrey Jerome Cohen'. John A Clark (talk) 16:51, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Descendants[edit]

I watched some documentary recently (I will update if I remember the name of it etc) that suggested the girl later had children of her own. If this aspect is true then we can discount the extraterrestrial origin theory, or add another mystery of how (excepting a collosal genetic coincidence) the alien was able to breed with a human. Or this could just be extrapolating upon the comment that she was 'loose in her conduct'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.139.66.156 (talk) 20:57, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

If you can find the details of the documentary, then the statements made in it can be included. But we should be cautious not to develop further our own conclusions from those statements, if the documentary (or any other source) doesn't mention those conclusions. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:30, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
The article already suggests the possibility that the girl may have had children of her own, in the Folklore explanations section: "I was told there are still people in Woolpit who are 'descended from the green children', but nobody would tell me who they were!" Malleus Fatuorum 22:38, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

First sentence[edit]

"The green children of Woolpit is the name given to two children..." This article isn't about the name of the children, it's about the children. If the article is about the name, it should be in italics, but it's not. —Designate (talk) 09:09, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

The point you evidently miss is that it's not at all certain that the children ever existed. Therefore the article isn't about the children, it's about the story. Malleus Fatuorum 11:55, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
I got that, thanks. This was my attempted revision from earlier today, which clarified it was a folkloric account without bungling the grammar. Compare:
  • A fairy is a type of mythical being or legendary creature...
  • Santa Claus is a figure with legendary, mythical, historical and folkloric origins who, in many western cultures, is said to bring gifts...
  • Paul Bunyan is a lumberjack figure in North American folklore and tradition...
Notice we don't write "fairy is the name of a type", or "Santa Claus is the name of a figure", etc. The articles are about the figures, the stories, the characters. They're not about the names of those things. You're under the mistaken impression that if something didn't exist we can't refer to it directly, which isn't the case at all. Try rewriting any other sentence in the article other than the lead sentence:
"Jeffrey Jerome Cohen proposes that the green children are a memory of England's past,"
to
"Jeffrey Jerome Cohen proposes that the green children is the name of a memory of England's past,"
and you see how awful it sounds. Doing it in the lead sentence is just as grating. You can identify the green children as "in English folklore" or "legendary figures" or anything along those lines. But writing that they are the name of themselves is the wrong way to go. —Designate (talk) 13:24, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Well "legendary children" is too ambiguous as it's a term also used for someone of great achievement. How about "The legend of the green children of Woolpit concerns two children of unusual skin colour who reportedly appeared in the village of Woolpit..."? Richerman (talk) 13:55, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
That's better. —Designate (talk) 14:40, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Wolf pit[edit]

I reviewed this article a few days ago and noticed the reference to wolf pits. I wasn't quite sure what they were and so today, observing the article on the main page, clarified this with an appropriate wikilink. This was reverted, along with other changes. I still think this link is appropriate as wolf pits seem sufficiently exotic and unfamiliar that readers may want to know more and so a blue link is helpful. Please discuss. Warden (talk) 13:16, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Link added in note, which hopefully works for everyone, it does for me, thanks for the research. Edmund Patrickconfer 14:11, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps people will disagree, but I put back in the link from the phrase wolf pit to trapping pit. The average reader will find a blue link and a note easier than simply a note I think. Invertzoo (talk) 16:33, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Badly written rubbish[edit]

How on earth did this article get promoted with this standard of writing? It is clear that MOS:LEDE has not been consulted at the very least: the way the reader is bombarded with random unconnected facts right from the top hinders rather than aids understanding. Not the best of Wikipedia by a long stretch. 91.125.228.124 (talk) 18:11, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Shouldn't that be "poorly written rubbish" Mattisse? Malleus Fatuorum 18:38, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
I would say that the MOS has been consulted at the most. Drmies (talk) 19:40, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
At the very mostest. Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:26, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 2 February 2013[edit]

I find " The Green Children resurface another story that William had been unable to tell, one in which English paninsular dominion becomes a troubled assumption rather than a foregone conclusion." mildly confusing. "Resurfacing" seems to bear a meaning that isn't obvious, submarines being the most obvious application, and my eye also tripped over the un-hyphenated version of pan-insular. This would give " The Green Children express another story that William had been unable to tell, one in which English pan-insular dominion becomes a troubled assumption rather than a foregone conclusion."

For "express" perhaps connote, represent, manifest, intimate, hint at, insinuate, etc. would all be better than "resurface" as a transitive verb?

Richard Keatinge (talk) 22:48, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

It would be inappropriate to copyedit a quotation, but on reading the paragraph entire, I don't find it particularly difficult to understand. The language is slightly archaic but it's still legitimate. Parrot of Doom 23:01, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Not done. I wasn't sure I even understood the request (no offense).--Bbb23 (talk) 23:13, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
  • My reading: Cohen uses the word to indicate the act of bringing above the surface involuntarily, as an unintentional act on the part of the children. Either way, we can't change a direct quote. I wouldn't call it archaic: Cohen is the hippest of the hip in monster theory. He's at George Washington and has a book out with U of Minnesota P, which are excellent poststructural credentials. He probably is hip enough for an article. Drmies (talk) 23:47, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
OK, fine. I'd have changed it to indirect speech and, I think, produced a version easier for an encyclopedia user to understand. Paninsular is not really widely-current even in formal English, easily mistaken for peninsular. I thought that a hyphen might help. But I bow to the consensus of my betters. Richard Keatinge (talk) 21:22, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
Your rewritten version wasn't a change to indirect speech. If it were, it would require drastic rewriting, and I'm not sure this could be rewritten. Drmies (talk) 04:01, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Green beans are a New World food; how could they be found in 12th century England?[edit]

"Green beans" as known today are native to the Americas. Did the original accounts refer to fava beans or some other vegetable instead? --Pyrochem (talk) 23:44, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

  • At the risk of sounding pedantic, there's probably a huge difference between "green beans" and green beans. It may denote split peas, for all I know: good thing it isn't linked to green beans in the article. One shouldn't too easily read modern meanings into old words, I suppose. Drmies (talk) 23:49, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
"Vicia faba, the broad or fava bean is an ancient staple of many middle eastern and north African cuisines. For use in the traditional recipes of these cuisines the bean is allowed to develop fully and is then dried, resulting in more nutritious dishes than in the European manner where the beans are more frequently eaten green and immature" [1] Richerman (talk) 00:09, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
And don't forget edamame. Bishonen | talk 21:43, 3 February 2013 (UTC).
Also unknown in 12th century Europe. Rmhermen (talk) 01:35, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I think "green beans" is misleading enough to change. In William's Latin version of the story, the children won't eat until they see fabae ("broad beans") brought in fresh from harvest. In William,

forte ex agro contigit fabas inferri, quas illico arripientes, legumen ipsum in thyrsis quaesierunt, et nihil in concavitate thyrsorum invenientes, amare fleverunt. Tunc quidam eorum, qui aderant, legumen ex corticibus erutum porrexit eis, quod statim libenter acceptum, comederunt. Hoc cibo aliti sunt per menses aliquot, quousque usum panis noverunt.
"It happened by chance that when just-picked beans were brought in from the field, they sought out the edible part of the bean (legumen)) itself among the stalks, and finding nothing within the mound of stalks, they wept bitterly. Then a certain person among those who were present offered to them beans (legumen, as a collective) that had popped out of the pods, which they at once accepted willingly, and ate. They were nourished by means of this food for months, until such time as they knew the use of bread."

I don't know medieval Latin usage well enough to know whether the choice of thyrsus for stalk is as striking as I find it; this borrowed Greek word is usually used for the implement of the vegetation god Dionysus and is far from the usual word in classical Latin for the stalks or fodder produced by harvest. I haven't found the green children in Ralph to compare, but I think we should represent fabae by "(fresh) broad beans", lest children be duped into eating string beans by mistake in the hope of turning green. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:45, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
It's more important to remember that we use secondary sources here - we need to stick with the phrasing used by the secondary sources that report this - not the original medieval chroniclers. Ealdgyth - Talk 22:31, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
No, faba is a mere lexical item: it means "broad bean," and nothing else: what else could it mean? "Green" in the secondary source means "fresh, not dried," not "green bean" in the American sense of "string bean". Cynwolfe (talk) 22:38, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
Actually, Latham's Revised Medieval Latin Word-List (vol. 1 p. 183) gives "faverelli" as the Latin for "broad bean" and dates that to the 12th century in British and Irish sources. Thus we shouldn't assume that the classical meaning of the Latin word is exactly what was meant by William - you'd need to check with secondary sources (i.e. translators of his works) to see what they translated it as... as well as consulting the originally used secondary sources that back up this section. Ealdgyth - Talk 22:54, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
That's just a dimunitive of faba, and it isn't the word William used. Unless you're saying the secondary sources meant to say there were string beans in 12th-century Europe, isn't there some way to offer a clarification? The unsuspecting American reader will picture the green bean. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:04, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I didn't get the sources for this - so the real answer is to ... read a couple of translations of William and see what those historians translate it as as well as read whatever source is given. I suspect they mean "raw/shell beans" but... without secondary sources backing it up... Ealdgyth - Talk 23:11, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
But evidently the question is what the secondary sources mean by "green," if we assume (as I do) that the contributing editors reflect the sources accurately as saying "green" rather than "fresh" or "freshly shelled". That's why when I saw the discussion here I checked the actual passage from William, which makes it clear that whatever the specific variety (faba being a general word for "bean"), he means beans freshly shelled. I don't think that's OR, per NOR (Faithfully translating sourced material into English … is not considered original research) and PSTS (A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the source but without further, specialized knowledge). Anyone could read the passage translated or in Latin and understand that we mean freshly harvested beans eaten shelled and "green" (and likely green or greenish in color too, but that would indeed be OR). I'm not trying to make an argument. I thought perhaps editors for the article might not be so aware of how distinctly "green bean" is read as "string bean" by most Americans. It was just my intention to be helpful by providing the original context for clarification. Didn't mean to waste anyone's time. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:52, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
Neither the original Latin texts nor the translations I've seen refer to the beans as "green", so why should this article? William calls them "naked" beans; both texts make it clear the children were eating beans (and there was only one sort available in England at the time, the Vicia faba or broad bean) straight from the pods - so why not just call them "raw beans"? That would save our American cousins any confusion, and also avoid the overt suggestion that there was a connection between the colour of the beans and the colour of the children (which may be implied in the original texts but is never stated openly). John O'London (talk) 12:21, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
In the absence of further comments, I've converted the first occurrence of "green beans" to "beans" and the second occurrence to "raw beans". John O'London (talk) 18:23, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Unexplained reversion[edit]

Okay, I see that the article is now fully protected and a few edits I made were apparently reverted during a wave of vandalism reversions. These need to be reinstated. Whoever did this, can you please be more careful? :bloodofox: (talk) 04:06, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

  • Yes and no. I've removed "typical" after your incredibly friendly prompting, but we're not about to link to a dab page. Drmies (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Bloodofox's edit was reverted along with mine and other edits here. These were not vandalism. See AN3 for more details. Drmies should please not edit through protection as they edited the article several times before it was protected and so seem too involved. Note, by the way, that another admin has edited through protection in a peremptory manner and continues to do so. Are admins not made aware of this when they edit? Warden (talk) 09:20, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Pff--Warden, you're saying ridiculous things. I helped write the article--yes I'm involved, duh. I'm editing through protection based on a fairly reasonable request here on the talk page, which is what we're supposed to do. There is nothing controversial about Gabbe's edits either. I thought you'd be happy that there's still some people willing to produce quality articles and maintain that quality, but this is just sour grapes cause you didn't get your way when you were up against another quality contributor at the edit warring board. Move along, please. Drmies (talk) 20:43, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
Please restrain snide remarks which, I'm afraid, intimidates editors. Thank you. --Unicorn Tapestry {say} 06:39, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure Warden didn't mean to intimidate anyone and I take no offense at his commentary, but thank you for your concern. Drmies (talk) 23:51, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
Don't be afraid. Eat fruit.
The statement that adding a JSTOR link was editing in a "peremptory" fashion was ridiculous. Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:03, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
  • The word "peremptory" was used in the sense given by the OED as "admitting no debate". In other words, the changes were made through protection without talk page discussion. Citation changes may be controversial as editors are often quite fussy about such details. One of PoD's 3RR-breaching edits was to revert citation changes. Warden (talk) 10:51, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Paninsular[edit]

Does anyone know if use of 'paninsular' is accurate from a quote in Cohen's book or a typo? Thanks.

--Unicorn Tapestry {say} 06:39, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes. It's accurate, not a typo. Malleus Fatuorum 23:43, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification. --Unicorn Tapestry {say} 03:56, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Folklore Explanations / Legacy[edit]

There are currently three paragraphs in the Folklore Explanations section that describe modern stories inspired by this tale, such as the Analog story about aliens, or the "modern development of the tale" from 1978. Shouldn't these be moved to the Legacy section? Andrew Keenan Richardson (talk) 19:47, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Obviously not. Lunan, for instance, isn't telling a story, he's offering an explanation. Malleus Fatuorum 20:10, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen[edit]

I originally added this query to a previous section, but it probably warrants a new heading. Could someone explain why Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's theory about William of Newburgh deserves so much space? It may explain why William used the story (but I'm not convinced) - it is certainly not an explanation of the 'green children' or of the origin of the story, and it doesn't belong under 'Folklore'. Elizabeth Freeman has similarly discussed the use Ralph of Coggeshall made of the story and concluded he used it in the context of “the threat posed by outsiders to the unity of the Christian community” (Freeman, Elizabeth. “Wonders, Prodigies and Marvels: Unusual Bodies and the Fear of Heresy in Ralph of Coggeshall’s Chronicon Anglicanum.” Journal of Medieval History 26.2 (2000) 127-43). Does this theory deserve equal prominence? In both cases, it suggests why the story might have been attractive to one or other historian. But neither of them actually invented the story, so it's hardly an 'explanation'. John A Clark (talk) 14:43, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

  • I'm on it (see below); a real quick and probably unsatisfactory answer is that Cohen has a lot of status these days (for all the right reasons), and thus certainly deserves the space. I'll have a look at your reference, for which I thank you. Drmies (talk) 15:23, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

RFC: Uncited, original-research conflation, in the article introduction and headings, of three types of explanations into two[edit]

There is a general consensus that the accusation of original research is unfounded. The RFC filer is correct that the sources make reference to a "forteana" classification, sometimes referred to as "paranormal". What the RFC filer fails to recognize, however, is that forteana or paranormal categories can also be treated as folklore and are often subsumed in that category. And as the discussion suggests, extraterrestrial claims are treated just as modern folklore in the philosophy of science, so this is hardly controversial. Vallee and Sagan are just two authors who have written about alien folklore, but there are many more. Sagan himself treats the idea of extraterrestrials visiting Earth in our recent past as a form of folklore, and has written extensively about it. And while it is certainly true that the discussion of ultraterrestrials and extraterrestrials has been treated as forteana or paranormal in the past, scientific methodology has largely replaced that way of thinking and adequately covers the topic using scientific skepticism (the simplest explanation is that the children had a known health condition that turned their skin green) and scientific methodology (the null hypothesis suggests that there are no ultra– nor extraterrestrials unless good evidence shows otherwise). My guess is that the RFC filer is using a narrow interpretation of folklore which explains the problem. Meanwhile, the philosophy of science literature, as well as our best sources, treats all of these unusual claims as folklore in general. Delineating certain claims as forteana or paranormal is unnecessary. Viriditas (talk) 22:26, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

In a classification of the explanations of the green children of Woolpit, should explanations involving extraterrestrials be classified among folklore explanations? —Lowellian (reply) 02:29, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

This article introduction claims, uncited, the following: "Two approaches have dominated explanations of the story of the green children: that it is a folk tale describing an imaginary encounter with the inhabitants of another world, perhaps one beneath our feet or even extraterrestrial, or it is a garbled account of a historical event." The first part of this claim wrongly conflates two clearly distinct types of explanations: (1) wholly speculative, paranormal explanations involving "inhabitants of another worlds, perhaps one beneath our feet or even extraterrestrial" with (2) conventional folkloristic explanations.

The two explanations come from totally different, unrelated sources, as the article body details, and the introduction misrepresents the article body and the sources by falsely conflating two totally distinct classes of explanations. The article body also puts those classes of explanations under the same heading of "folklore explanations", but they are two different classes of explanations as made clear by the actual details given in the section's text, which discusses the folkloristic explanations offered by scholars like Charles Oman, Martin Walsh, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, and others, and then continues on to discuss the extraterrestrial explanations offered by Duncan Lunan and Robert Burton — different classes of explanations from diferent sources which the article introduction and article headings are misrepresenting as a single type of explanation.

There are three classes of explanations given by sources and described in the article text: (1) folkloristic explanations (2) speculative, paranormal explanations involving "inhabitants from another world or extraterrestrials" (3) historical explanations. The article introduction attempts to do original research in conflating, without being backed by any sources, the speculative, paranormal explanations with the folkloristic ones, a POV conflation of pseudoscientific theories with the methods of folkloristics.

In the academic discipline of folkloristics, paranormal phenomenon like extraterrestrials are not ordinary, typical, or accepted in theories of the origins of myths and legends (for example, ancient astronaut theories have almost no acceptance in folkloristics departments), and the article should not treat them as such.

Lowellian (reply) 00:03, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

  • I have removed the POV template; please do not deface FAs with tags - at least three editors disagree with your changes. Thanks. SagaciousPhil - Chat 01:45, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
Template:POV explicitly specifies the conditions under which the POV tag may be removed: "1. There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved. 2. It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and no satisfactory explanation has been given. 3. In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant." None of these conditions have been met. You are violating the rules in removing the tag. —Lowellian (reply) 02:02, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
You inserted the tag after you were reverted twice and are therefore using the tag to deface an article simply because you are not gaining traction in a content dispute. Plese do not re-instate it again - as an Admin you should know better. SagaciousPhil - Chat 02:08, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
I am trying to draw attention to a POV dispute which is precisely what the POV tag is for. By hiding the tag, you are hiding awareness of the dispute from neutral editors and esssentially censoring the dispute and suppressing discussion and the viewpoints of neutral editors. As an experienced editor, you should know better. How can there be any fair discussion on a dispute when neutral editors are unaware that there is a dispute at all? Since hiding the POV tag prevents neutral editors from being aware that there is a dispute, I have opened an RFC to draw the opinions of uninvolved editors. —Lowellian (reply) 02:14, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
  • "Two approaches have dominated explanations" - This phrase doesn't seem to suggest that the author has conflated all explanations. Parrot of Doom 09:26, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
I never said that the introduction conflated all explanations. The problem is that there are three approaches (folkloristic, paranormal, and historical), not two; the introduction is doing original research in arbitrarily classifying paranormal explanations as folkloristic. —Lowellian (reply) 23:57, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
"The problem is that there are three approaches (folkloristic, paranormal, and historical), not two" - and still the sentence in the lede does not deny this. You don't appear to understand what "dominated" means. Parrot of Doom 15:29, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
The problem with the sentence in the introduction is that it includes the extraterrestrial theory under -- that is, considers the extraterrestrial theory a subset of -- the folkloristic approach. —Lowellian (reply) 10:22, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
I see. I think I'd probably consider the extraterrestrial explanations to be folklore but I don't know enough about the subject to say for sure. I know Eric well enough to understand that he wouldn't engage in any kind of original research, so either he has a view he hasn't set out here, or it's a simple mistake. Parrot of Doom 08:07, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
  • The lead does not need to be cited, it summarises cited information from the rest of the article. J3Mrs (talk) 11:31, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the lead does not need to be cited if it instead summarized information from the rest of the article, but the problem is that it is not summarizing cited information from the rest of the article, but instead doing original synthesis in drawing a new conclusion, not supported by the article body, that paranormal explanations count as folkloristic ones. —Lowellian (reply) 23:59, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

Lowellian: Leaving aside the question of process, tagging etc. for a moment. Can I check your position here? Is your fundamental objection that sections in the main text like "in a 1996 article published in the magazine Analog, astronomer Duncan Lunan hypothesised that the children were accidentally transported to Woolpit from their home planet as the result of a 'matter transmitter' malfunction" essentially aren't folklore explanations? I'm asking, as I potentially have some sympathy for an argument that a "scientific" explanation like this (albeit possibly loosely defined...!) might not be a "folklore" explanation in the classic sense of the word.

If so, and if the cited text supported the change, a minor tweak to the introduction could possibly accommodate this point: e.g. by changing the line to read: "that it is a tale describing an imaginary encounter with the inhabitants of another world, perhaps one beneath our feet or even extraterrestrial, or it is a garbled account of a historical event." Hchc2009 (talk) 12:32, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

Yes, that is basically my position. Your tweak to the lead is acceptable to me, but there is one more issue, that of headings. In the article body, there are two subheadings under the "explanations" heading: "folklore explanations" and "historical explanations". The extraterrestrial explanations are currently placed under "folklore explanations". They should be split off to a separate section. —Lowellian (reply) 00:09, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Can I ask where the language of "falsely", "wrongly conflates", "misrepresents", and "POV conflation" comes from? I mean, what would this alleged POV be? It's just very collegial, this kind of phrasing. Drmies (talk) 19:06, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
The POV is advancing paranormal theories like extraterrestrials by (mis)representing them as a generally typical/accepted type of explanation of myths and legends. —Lowellian (reply) 08:47, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
And "falsely"? Never mind. I'll just say that I've never been perfectly happy with the section/division and I'm going to look at it again. In the meantime, though, let me note for the record that "aliens" are no more alien as an explanation than "inhabitants from St. Martin's land". Drmies (talk) 15:21, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

For my bit the lead should be tweaked as mentioned above to reflect the article and that should be changed to have three sections under explanations; namely folklore, historic and another - not necessarily paranormal! Though Paranormal does in its literate sense convey the meaning that the article wants to get across, it has these days become synonymous with the Supernatural. The three "explanations" of the events surrounding the Green Children of Woolpit need to be separated, alien visitations (or malfunctions in transportations) are not folklore IMO but extra-terrestrial. Edmund Patrickconfer 07:10, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. This is exactly my issue with the original text. —Lowellian (reply) 08:47, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Here's the thing. What the folklore and the alien explanations have in common is that both seek a source for the children in some otherworldly source. Whether that's fairyland, St. Martin's land, or the plant Smurk doesn't really matter; what matters is that they are very different kinds of explanations from the historical ones. I have tweaked the text and moved Cohen around; after all, his explanation is historical as well, albeit it much complex than the "garbled account" theories. I think we placed Cohen in the folklore section because the history of his children is transmitted through a cultural memory that is, because it is suppressed, is almost as elusive as a fairy. I am not opposed to further tweakage--if we can drop the "falsely" language, which connotates bad faith. Drmies (talk) 17:45, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Is visitation by extraterrestrials not modern folklore? Also I don't think such things can be classed as paranormal as that means something beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding. Although visitation by extraterrestrials is unlikely it isn't outside the bounds of scientific possibility. Richerman (talk) 20:29, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
    • Hey Richerman, I agree--I think it's modern folklore. Since we think we're done mining our world we invented some new ones. Anyway, the word "paranormal" isn't in the article and so I'm not worried about it. I'm kind of busy right now, but if I have an hour or two I'll tell you all about my encounter with an alien intelligence; I wish I could tell you I behaved better than I did. Drmies (talk) 22:38, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

I've come here from the feedback request service; I can't agree that it's OR to suggest that "otherwordly", "extraterrestrial" and "folklore" are sufficiently different that they could't all fall under a modern understanding of the term "paranormal". While these words all might mean something different; they're similar enough in a wider sense that I think they could be grouped together. It would be useful, I'd suggest, to point out in detail how widespread was mediæval belief in faeries and the paranormal, to give more context to that, but I'm happy with Drmies's arguments above. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 01:00, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

  • Summoned by bot. I love this article, but I'm sad to say that I'm basically indifferent to this issue: when I read the article I readily understood that the "folkloric" explanations included alien explanations. I don't think this is misleading, and agree that stories about extraterrestrials can be understood as another kind of folklore. In this case, "scientific" explanations would actually be another name for "historical" ones. -Darouet (talk) 22:37, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
While I understand Lowellian's POV, I think it's perfectly valid to consider ET a subset of folklore. I think of folklore as anything from tall tales to old wives tales. Stories that are highly unlikely, although not necessarily provably false. The ET explanation in this article certainly fits that definition of folklore.--John, AF4JM (talk) 02:33, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

Aliens and Folklore[edit]

Hey folks, just read this. To add my two cents: the alien figure and, for example, alien abduction narratives are indeed considered folklore in folkloristics (see for example Bullard, E. Thomas. 1989. "UFO Abduction Reports: The Supernatural Kidnap Narrative Returns in Technological Guise" in The Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 102, No. 404 (April - June 1989), pp. 147-170—it's on JSTOR). Aliens are certainly figures from contemporary North American folklore, next to numerous figures like goat-suckers, Big Foot, and ghosts.

There's a widespread false impression that folklore is something solely of the past. A folklorist will be quick to tell you that it's not: it's all around us at all times, among all professions and classes, from jokes to recipes. Perhaps partially due to this impression Wikipedia has long had a problem with for example putting stuff from figures involved in ufology and cryptozoology on equal footing with comments from folklorists. Yet folkloristics is an academic discipline, whereas ufology and cryptozoology are themselves an extension of folklore. Cryptozoologists and ufologists are not reliable sources—folklorists are. We don't allow flat earth POV in our geology articles. We should be very careful about the place such figures have in Wikipedia articles.

Since alien encounters are examples of modern folklore, it seems to me that the section should just be "folklore". Otherwise the section reads something like "Germanic Languages and Swedish", where "Swedish" is for some reason highlighted even though it falls under the preceding category ("Germanic languages"). :bloodofox: (talk) 23:13, 12 December 2015 (UTC)

Yes, exactly - that's what I said above. Richerman (talk) 23:56, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
I've changed the section title to simply "folklore". :bloodofox: (talk) 02:40, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

External links quality[edit]

The external link section of this article contains three amateur websites. None of these are remotely reliable sources. The first article is presented as a "study", the second is a blog, and the third is an archived article of no merit. They're about as useful to this article as a link to a "ghost hunter" article would be to folkloristics. The only thing these links are doing is bringing down the quality of the article—they need to be removed. :bloodofox: (talk) 19:48, 7 December 2015 (UTC)

I think the second would qualify as a reliable source, actually - while it's self-published, the author appears to have been published in the topic area by reputable organizations. Nikkimaria (talk) 20:50, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
You have a point in that the author is a member of the Folklore Society, although he seems to be otherwise self-taught (his background appears to be in relatively unrelated fields). However, in this case it's probably best a question of: do we need this information here? It just seems to briefly repeat what we have in the article. The link only seems to serve to advertise the author's site. :bloodofox: (talk) 21:01, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
  • The third one adds nothing, and I removed it. Drmies (talk) 05:40, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Same with the anomaly one. For the other one, I'll run with Nikkimaria for now, though it does not seem to add much. Drmies (talk) 05:43, 9 December 2015 (UTC)