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When most of us think of money we think of circular fragments of metal, inked sheets
of paper, and quasi-magical plastic issued by the bank-fairy.
But what did people do before money?
Well, long before the advent of modern day currencies, people engaged in a practice known as barter.
Bartering is the direct exchange of goods and services for other goods and services.
For example your average Neolithic transaction may look a little something like this.
Man A owns axe.
Man B owns bag of corn.
And assuming Man A is in need of corn and Man B is in need of an axe, a successful trade is now possible.
However, this also highlights a fundamental limitation.
As both parties must possess an item or skill that the other need or wants the ability to
carry out a successful transaction heavily relies on coincidence.
This is a problem known as the coincidence of wants.
Man A is in need of corn but Man B is not in need of an axe.
Thus no trade.
Thus Man A starve to death.
And while Man A may AXEidental that axe into the neck of Man B and simply take the corn,
it would technically not be barter anymore as Man B has seized to exist.
So a non-violent solution to this problem would be an item that everyone wants.
And this is the basic function of money.
Money was first used in the form of cows, sheep, camels, and other forms of livestock.
But after people kept snapping their spine attempting to carry 15 cows in their wallet,
a more portable form of currency was desperately needed.
A specific type of seashell known as cowrie were used as currency for many centuries largely
due to their portability.
And ease-of-use as well as durability has really been the determining factors of what
is and isn't money ever since.
Various items used as currency over the millennia include gold, silver, stones, pelts, rice,
salt, pepper, tea, cheese, hemp, barley, rum, beads, knives, arrowheads, and teeth.
Metal coins first appeared across Asia some two and a half thousand years ago but something
even lighter and more portable was needed for extremely large transactions.
So the Chinese began experimenting with leather and eventually paper.
Then, as society continued to grow and technology improved, even paper became too cumbersome
so we literally made money as intangible as the concept itself.
In a previous video I've talked about pareidolia.
It's when we incorrectly perceive a familiar pattern such as a face on Mars or a petrified tree.
And his naked cousin.
Well, banknotes have their own fair share of pareidolic history.
The most infamous one is likely the supposed Illuminati-related owl on the United States $1 bill.
In reality, it's just a squiggly pattern and less obscured and near-identical patterns
found elsewhere on the same note can back this up.
Now, that being said, I'm personally gonna stick to "subliminal message left by the Illuminati"
because that is just objectively more exciting.
Another example is this banknote first issued in 1968 on the small island country of Seychelles.
Many believe that someone intentionally arranged
these palm trees in such a way that they spell out the word "SEX".
It could simply be pareidolia at work but it's intentionality is somewhat strengthened
by the fact that another denomination of the same series is also said to contain a similar anomaly.
Namely another word and this time the word is "SCUM".
This note was first released in Germany after World War I and allegedly features a vampire.
I'll admit, It took me quite some time to even spot this one for myself but the mans neck is supposed
to serve as the vampire's face, like this, and the mans left shoulder serve as the vampire's hood or hat.
Because as we all know, headgear is the signature tell of a vampire.
I don't know why they thought this was a vampire because it's obviously a happy mole.
With a hat.. and hair.
Finally, the entire series of notes issued by the Bank of Canada in 1954 supposedly depicts
the devil himself.
Much like the hat-sporting vampire, Satan is quite difficult to spot (because it's all in your head)
but he's right here.
Horns and everything.
If you draw them on.
This devilish mind-trick bothered people so much that the notes actually had to be modified
and rereleased.
Few human inventions are as ubiquitous as banknotes.
The vast majority of the population handles banknotes on a regular basis.
But this constant fingering means that money is a microcosm of its environment.
In other words, everything you touch you transfer over to the money you handle and the next
person does the same and the next person does the same and you get the idea.
Eventually, your hard earned cash is little more than a sponge that you happily share
with the rest of the world.
Multiple studies have consistently demonstrated that banknotes from around the globe both
contain and allow for the growth and transmittance of various pathogens.
The most common are various strains of staph which can lead to skin infections as well
as pathogens typically associated with fecal contamination.
Let me say that again.
It is not uncommon for your money to contain traces of feces.
But as long as you maintain regular sanitation habits and develop a taste for stool then
you should be fine.
But the real concern is that monies could serve as the perfect carrier and instigate
an epidemic because it has been shown that more dangerous pathogens could survive for
days, weeks, or even months on the surface.
So the medium of exchange could become the medium of infection.
The confederation Oxfam, which focuses on the alleviation of global poverty, estimated
in January of 2015 that by the same time next year, the richest 1% would own more than the
rest of the world combined.
It turns out that this estimation was absolutely right.
Global inequality is now so extreme that 1% of humanity holds more wealth than the remaining 99%.
Not only that but in the 2017 report, the eight richest men on the planet now owns the
same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion.
That's the wealth of half the global population equal to that of a mere eight people.
I've always seen Scrooge McDuck as a caricature of greed but turns out it was a bloody documentary.
One of the most recognizable currency symbols in the world, which is sometimes used as a
generic symbol for money as a whole, is the dollar sign.
It's been used to represent numerous currencies across the globe with some of the largest
being the United States dollar (US$), the Mexican peso (MX$), the Brazilian real (R$),
the Canadian dollar (CA$), and the Australian dollar (AU$).
However, no one is quite sure where the symbol came from.
The most accepted theory trace its origins back to the American Revolution and the subsequent
minting of the first US coinage during the 1700s.
The US dollar was based on the Spanish-American peso which was commonly abbreviated as "ps."
But as you can see, this abbreviation was often written quite hastily and thus the two
letters eventually became superimposed upon one another.
It's believed that this gradual amalgamation resulted in an S speared by a straight vertical line.
Now, the double-stroked variation, known as a Cifrão, may also be a derivative of the Spanish-American
peso which featured the Spanish coat of arms consisting of
two vertical pillars embraced by S-shaped banners.
Which, now that I've made them green, looks like snakes.
Another theory suggest that the symbol is an amalgamation of a U and an S, which is
an abbreviation of either the "United States" or "Units of Silver".
But again, no one is quite sure and when you're not quite sure, you can use this symbol.
It's known as the international currency sign or scarab, for short, and can be used to denote any
unspecified currency.
A lot of different currencies also contain traces of drugs.
Especially cocaine.
In fact, this is true for the vast majority of banknotes in countries such as the US,
the UK, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, and Spain just to name a few.
There's been a few theories as to why this is and, as fun as it would be to imagine,
it's most likely not because the whole world is snorkeling through winter wonderland every
lunch break.
Instead it's likely due to a combination of factors such as cocaine being an extremely
fine power that could easily spread en masse through the use of counting machines and money laundering.
Nevertheless, it's only microscopic traces between 1 billionth to 1 thousand of a gram,
so it's practically nothing but technically something.
Some of the financial terms still in use today have some quite interesting etymologies.
Like the word salary.
As previously mentioned, salt was once used as a form of currency and the word salary
derives from the Latin word "salarium" which quite literally means "salt-money".
And salt-money is even in use today as every time someone wins the lottery, it makes everyone else salty.
The slang term "buck" likely comes from a time when deerskin or buckskin was used as currency.
And the word money itself derived from the Latin word "moneta" as the Temple of Juno
Moneta in ancient Rome is where the first Roman coins were minted.
But as money existed prior to the word for money being invented, it is safe to say that
time travel does exist.
Which is nice.
The person most prevalently featured on the face of currency throughout all of human history
is that of the current queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II.
Not only denominations of British currency but that of other nations as well.
Only 9% of worldwide bills feature women but out of all the banknotes that do, 63% is that
of the queens likeness.
She made her first appearance at the ripe age of 8 when, in 1935, she appeared on the
Canadian $20 notes.
Over the years she's appeared on various banknotes from Australia, Jamaica, Hong Kong, New Zealand,
Cyprus, Bermuda, Scotland, among many other places.
In fact, she's appeared on the face of so many different banknotes that it's possible
to create a sort of progressive timeline of her life.
So I took the time to do just that.
From 1935 all the way to present day.
And don't you dare make this into a .gif without giving credit!
Humans are actually not the only species capable of understanding the use of money.
No animal in nature has so far been observed to use a medium of exchange but researchers
have been able to teach monkey's some fundamental concepts of money.
For example, in this experiment about inequity, the two monkeys are supposed to hand the researcher
a rock in exchange for some food.
So the rocks acts as the money.
However, as the monkey on the left receives bland cucumber while his neighbor receives
tasty grapes for the exact same amount of work and money, he perceive it as an injustice.
In another experiment, monkeys were given the choice between a number of different foods
that they could buy with coins.
All food options were initially equally priced and thus the monkeys would always buy the
food they liked the most.
But when the price of their favorite food was increased, they would actually buy some
of the cheaper food in order to get the most out of their money.
And sometimes the male monkeys would completely ignore the food and instead use their coins
to pay the females for sex.
The females would then use that money to buy food for themselves.
In other words, the first recorded case of animal prostitution.
The man on the United States $100 bill, Benjamin Franklin himself, once said:
"Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing
in its nature to produce happiness.
The more of it one has, the more one wants."
And there is a certain level of truth to this sentiment backed up by scientific research.
First of all, having money is obviously going to make you happier than not having money
but plenty of research have demonstrated a correlation between wealth and generosity.
On average, the wealthier you are, the less generous you become.
And this is an important finding because generosity has been shown to benefit general well-being
regardless of culture, social status, and wealth.
A massive study involving more than 200,000 participants across 136 countries has evinced
that: "Human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial
resources to help others."
Something known as prosocial spending.
Now, the reason for this decrease in generosity is that merely thinking about money makes
you less sensitive to the feelings of others and more narcissistic.
One study explains that:
"...reminders of money orient people to independence and therefore lead them to prefer greater
distance from others and to be less helpful toward them."
Basically it boils down to a duality of motivations.
The pursuit of wealth is kind to the selfish while the pursuit of happiness is kind to the selfless.
The key seems to be to find a balance between the two.