Why do electric fans work this way?

Electric fans and range top fans go from off to high to low. Is it a fan thing or an electic motor thing?

Deliberate design. If the switch went off-low-high, you could switch from high to low and go to sleep thinking you’d turned it off due to the decrease in noise. With high next to off, that can’t happen.

My beef is, why is low so high? I want a setting that’s lower than low, just a gentle breeze wafting over my sleeping body with no noise at all.

A recent thread on this: Why are some appliances this way?.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to start a motor at full power. Switches are often wired to go off-high-low - the high setting helps kicks the motor a bit harder, getting it spinning, even if you only momentarily linger there, as you turn it to low.

The previous thread has more details on why that’s the case.