Top 10 Facts - Money

5 Feb 201714:52


TLDRThis thought-provoking script explores the fascinating history and intricate dynamics surrounding money. It delves into the origins of barter systems and the evolution of currency, from primitive forms like livestock and seashells to modern paper notes and digital transactions. The video examines the peculiar histories behind currency designs, traces of contaminants found on banknotes, and the disturbing realities of global wealth inequality. It also touches on the psychological impact of money, revealing how excessive wealth can breed narcissism while generosity fosters happiness. Overall, this script offers an engaging and multifaceted perspective on the ubiquitous yet enigmatic concept of money.


  • 🔆 Money originated from barter systems, where people directly exchanged goods and services, but this was limited by the 'coincidence of wants'.
  • 💰 Various items have been used as currencies throughout history, including livestock, seashells, metals, grains, and other commodities, evolving towards more portable and durable forms.
  • 🧐 Banknotes have been the subject of pareidolic interpretations, with people perceiving patterns or images like the Illuminati owl, vampires, and the devil.
  • 🦠 Money can harbor and transmit various pathogens, including fecal contamination, posing potential health risks.
  • 🤑 Global wealth inequality is extreme, with the richest 1% owning more than the remaining 99% of the world's population.
  • 🔤 The origin of the dollar sign ($) is uncertain, with theories tracing it back to the Spanish-American peso or abbreviations like 'U.S.' or 'Units of Silver'.
  • ⛷️ Traces of drugs, particularly cocaine, have been found on banknotes in many countries, likely due to factors like money laundering and counting machines.
  • 💸 Financial terms like 'salary' (from Latin 'salarium' meaning 'salt-money') and 'buck' (from buckskin) have interesting etymological origins.
  • 👸 Queen Elizabeth II is the most featured individual on currency, appearing on banknotes from various countries throughout her life.
  • 🐵 Monkeys have demonstrated an understanding of money's use as a medium of exchange and the ability to make economic choices based on price and preferences.

Q & A

  • What is barter, and how did it function as an early form of exchange?

    -Barter is the direct exchange of goods and services for other goods and services. It functioned as an early form of exchange by allowing people to trade items they had for items they needed, without the involvement of money. However, barter had the limitation of requiring a 'coincidence of wants' between the two parties involved in the trade.

  • What were some of the earliest forms of money used by humans?

    -Some of the earliest forms of money used by humans included livestock (cows, sheep, camels), seashells (cowrie shells), precious metals (gold, silver), stones, pelts, rice, salt, pepper, tea, cheese, hemp, barley, rum, beads, knives, arrowheads, and teeth.

  • How did the development of paper money contribute to the evolution of currency?

    -As societies grew and technology improved, paper money was developed as a more portable and convenient form of currency than coins for large transactions. The Chinese were among the first to experiment with paper money, as metal coins became too cumbersome for larger exchanges.

  • What is pareidolia, and how does it relate to banknotes?

    -Pareidolia is the phenomenon of incorrectly perceiving familiar patterns, such as faces or words, in random or ambiguous visual information. Several banknotes have been accused of containing pareidolic images, such as an owl on the US $1 bill (actually just a squiggly pattern), or the word 'SEX' formed by palm trees on a Seychelles banknote.

  • Why are banknotes considered potential carriers of pathogens and disease?

    -Banknotes, due to constant handling by different people, can become a 'microcosm of their environment,' accumulating various pathogens and traces of contaminants, including fecal matter and dangerous disease-causing microorganisms that can survive for extended periods on their surfaces. This makes them potential carriers and sources of infection.

  • What does the report on global inequality by Oxfam reveal?

    -The report by Oxfam revealed that global inequality had become so extreme that the richest 1% of the world's population owned more wealth than the remaining 99%. Additionally, the eight richest men on the planet owned as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people, or half the global population.

  • What is the most widely accepted theory about the origin of the dollar sign ($)?

    -The most accepted theory traces the origin of the dollar sign ($) to the hastily written abbreviation 'ps' for the Spanish-American peso, which was the basis for the US dollar. The superimposed letters 'p' and 's' eventually evolved into the modern dollar sign symbol.

  • Why do many banknotes contain traces of drugs, particularly cocaine?

    -Many banknotes contain microscopic traces of drugs, especially cocaine, likely due to a combination of factors such as the fine powder easily spreading through counting machines, and money laundering activities involving drug proceeds.

  • What is the etymology behind the term 'salary'?

    -The word 'salary' derives from the Latin word 'salarium,' which means 'salt-money,' as salt was once used as a form of currency.

  • How have researchers demonstrated that monkeys can understand basic concepts of money?

    -Researchers have taught monkeys to exchange tokens (rocks) for food rewards, and the monkeys exhibited behaviors like perceiving inequity when receiving lesser rewards for the same 'payment,' adjusting their spending based on price changes, and even using their 'money' to pay for sexual favors from other monkeys.



💰 The Evolution of Money

This paragraph traces the history of money, from its origins in barter systems and the use of livestock and commodities as currency, to the development of portable forms like cowrie shells, coins, and eventually paper money and digital currencies. It highlights the key factors that determined what could serve as money, such as portability, durability, and ease of use. The paragraph also touches on interesting facts and anecdotes related to the design and hidden symbols on various banknotes.


🦠 The Dark Side of Money

This paragraph explores the potential health risks associated with paper currency. It discusses how banknotes can harbor and transmit various pathogens, including staph bacteria and fecal contaminants, due to constant handling and exchange. The paragraph also highlights concerns about the possibility of money serving as a vector for spreading more dangerous diseases. Additionally, it addresses the issue of extreme global wealth inequality, citing statistics that show the vast concentration of wealth among a tiny fraction of the world's population.


👸 The Ubiquitous Queen

This paragraph focuses on the prevalence of Queen Elizabeth II's image on banknotes worldwide. It notes that she is the most featured individual on currency throughout history, appearing on notes from various countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and others. The paragraph describes the creation of a progressive timeline of the Queen's life using her depictions on different banknotes over the years. It also briefly touches on the ability of non-human primates to understand and utilize money in experimental settings, including instances of animal prostitution.




Barter refers to the direct exchange of goods or services without the use of money. The video explains that before modern currencies, people engaged in bartering to acquire what they needed. For example, 'Man A owns an axe' and 'Man B owns a bag of corn' - they could trade these items directly. Barter highlights the 'coincidence of wants' problem, where a trade can only occur if both parties possess what the other wants.


Currency is any form of money in circulation, whether coins, banknotes, or other accepted tokens of value. The video traces the evolution of currency from livestock and cowrie shells to coins, paper money, and modern digital forms. Different objects like gold, salt, and pelts have served as currency across cultures. Currency facilitates trade by providing a universally accepted medium of exchange.


Money is any tangible or intangible item that is generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, and a store of wealth. The video discusses how money solved the 'coincidence of wants' problem in barter by providing 'an item that everyone wants.' It explores the varied origins and forms of money throughout history, from precious metals to paper banknotes and digital currencies.


Pareidolia refers to the tendency to perceive familiar patterns or meanings in random or ambiguous stimuli. The video cites examples of perceived images like an owl, a vampire, and the devil in the designs of various banknotes, though these are likely pareidolic illusions rather than intentional designs. It illustrates how our minds can find meaningful shapes and symbols even in abstract patterns.


Pathogens are microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, or fungi that can cause disease. The video highlights research showing that banknotes often contain traces of pathogens, including those from fecal contamination, due to constant handling and exchange. This raises concerns about money serving as a vector for transmitting infections and potential epidemics.


Inequality refers to the uneven distribution of wealth, resources, or opportunities within a population. The video cites statistics demonstrating extreme global wealth inequality, with the richest 1% owning more than the other 99% combined. It contrasts this concentration of wealth with the concept of generosity and prosocial spending, which research links to greater well-being.


Generosity is the quality of being willing to give or share resources, often without expecting anything in return. The video discusses studies showing that generosity and 'prosocial spending' (using money to help others) contribute to emotional well-being across cultures. It contrasts this with the tendency for wealth to decrease generosity and increase self-focus.

💡Prosocial Spending

Prosocial spending refers to using one's financial resources to help or benefit others. The video cites a large study indicating that prosocial spending provides emotional benefits and increased well-being, regardless of wealth or culture. It presents prosocial spending as a key factor in finding happiness through the pursuit of generosity rather than solely accumulating wealth.


Numismatics is the study or collection of coins, banknotes, and other currency for historical, economic, or artistic purposes. The video explores various numismatic oddities and curiosities, such as the origins of the dollar sign, the appearance of pareidolic images on banknotes, and the widespread depiction of Queen Elizabeth II across global currencies.

💡Medium of Exchange

A medium of exchange is any commonly accepted form of currency or token that facilitates trade by representing value. The video traces the evolution of mediums of exchange, from barter to livestock, shells, precious metals, paper money, and digital currencies. It also notes how money itself can become a 'medium of infection' by transmitting pathogens through constant handling and exchange.


Bartering is the direct exchange of goods and services for other goods and services, a practice that existed long before the advent of modern currencies.

The coincidence of wants, where two parties must possess items or skills that the other needs or wants, was a fundamental limitation of barter systems.

Money emerged as an item that everyone wants, solving the coincidence of wants problem inherent in barter systems.

Various items used as currency over the millennia include livestock, seashells, gold, silver, stones, pelts, rice, salt, pepper, tea, cheese, hemp, barley, rum, beads, knives, arrowheads, and teeth.

Banknotes have a history of pareidolia, where patterns resembling familiar objects or faces are perceived, leading to speculation about hidden messages or symbols.

Multiple studies have consistently demonstrated that banknotes from around the globe contain and allow for the growth and transmittance of various pathogens, including strains of staph and fecal contamination.

Global inequality is now so extreme that 1% of humanity holds more wealth than the remaining 99%, and the eight richest men on the planet own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion.

The dollar sign's origin is uncertain, but theories trace it back to the Spanish-American peso, an amalgamation of U and S, or the international currency sign (scarab).

Many banknotes contain traces of drugs, especially cocaine, likely due to factors such as the use of counting machines and money laundering.

Financial terms like 'salary,' 'buck,' and 'money' have interesting etymologies related to salt, deerskin, and the Roman Temple of Juno Moneta.

Queen Elizabeth II is the most prevalently featured person on currency throughout history, appearing on banknotes from various nations, allowing for a progressive timeline of her life.

Researchers have been able to teach monkeys fundamental concepts of money, including inequity, pricing, and even using money to pay for sex (the first recorded case of animal prostitution).

Scientific research has shown that while having money can make people happier than not having it, wealth is often correlated with decreased generosity and sensitivity to others.

A study involving over 200,000 participants across 136 countries found that humans derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending).

The pursuit of wealth orients people towards independence and less helpfulness towards others, while the pursuit of happiness is more aligned with selflessness, suggesting a need to balance the two motivations.



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.

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