# Soc. sci. thread with soc. sci. content

1. Dec 14, 2007

### EnumaElish

Consider: space aliens have today announced in all languages that on January 1st, 2125, they will descend upon earth and vaporize all paper and metallic money that is in use at that point in time.

Given the above scenario, how much is the money in your wallet worth today?

2. Dec 14, 2007

### Economist

I would argue that the money in your wallet would probably not change at all immediately, since 2125 is awhile off and most people aren't really making decisions that will be around in over 100 years. However, as we get closer and closer to 2125 things would probably start to change, and money might be worth less and less because people might not really want the money (so you couldn't really get rid of it). In other words, eventually money would not really be worth anything It also seems plausible to me that we'd experience hyper inflation, because maybe people wouldn't see money as useless, but they'd want to get rid of it as soon as possible so the velocity of money would greatly increase.

I realize my 2 answers (about the longer run) are opposite and contradict one another. But that's what makes this a great question, and more importantly a great thought experiment.

3. Dec 14, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

Since I won't be alive in 2125, it's value doesn't change for me. By the year 2125, who knows what currency will be like, I would assume that most people will be using electronic forms of payment like credit and debit cards, I use my debit card almost exclusively for shopping since there is no charge for using it.

4. Dec 14, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

I don't think the threat itself would affect the value of the money at all. We are already heading towards "electronic money" anyway, and the alien's long timetable would allow for a smooth and seamless transition.

However, the sudden proof of the existence of advanced aliens would throw the markets in disarray and have a much more dramatic short-term effect on prices, but not due to the specifics of the threat.

5. Dec 15, 2007

### EnumaElish

That's what you believe (and seemingly what Evo believes, too).

What if the remaining 6,637,770,336* individuals believe that the paper and coins will still be (would still have been) in substantive use by 2125?

More importantly, do you want to take the chance?
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*According to the International Programs Center, U.S. Census Bureau, the total population of the World, projected to 12/16/07 at 03:45 GMT (EST+5), minus 2.

Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
6. Dec 17, 2007

### opus

"Money" is a tool for exchanges, not an end in itself. Aliens zapping cash (a medium for exchange) will make life inefficient, yes, but would have not-a-devastating effect on the world of commerce and the market. I'm not sure what you mean by vaporizing "metallic money" if you mean coins and the like, but if you meant precious metal reserves then that would be a bit of a problem. Also considering the uses of metal in industry, etc.

But what would it do for us, today, if cash will be gotten rid of in 100 years? Close to nothing, because we're moving towards cashless commerce anyways, and the aliens would find that we had no coins or cash in 2125 to begin with.

7. Dec 17, 2007

### opus

Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
8. Dec 17, 2007

### EnumaElish

Is that what you believe, or what you want to believe?

Either way, is it good enough to bet your wallet?

What if the rest of the humanity is ignorant enough not to believe in a cashless society by 2125?

What if 90% of them are so ignorant?

What if 50% of them are ignorant, and 40% don't want to take a chance?

What if 65% of them believe the society will be cashless in 2125 with 33.3% probability and the other 35% so believe with only 16.7% probability?

9. Dec 18, 2007

Based on the other responses so far it seems like a pretty safe bet. In my case I rarely carry more than $20 in cash, so I am perfectly willing to take the chance. As I said, we are already moving to electronic money anyway. I still think the general "nervousness" of markets to news of real aliens would have a much larger impact on the value of money than the specific threat. Last edited: Dec 18, 2007 10. Dec 18, 2007 ### EnumaElish What percentage of the U.S. population does PF represent? What percentage of the world population does it represent? What percentage of the PF'ers do the posters under this thread represent (e.g., statistically speaking)? Sounds like you think/believe that the Earthlings find space aliens untrustworthy. Last edited: Dec 18, 2007 11. Dec 18, 2007 ### Dale ### Staff: Mentor The percentage is irrelevant (statistically speaking). What matters is the fact that it is a small non-random sample from which is inappropriate to draw statistical inferences. However, it is a perfectly reasonable amount of information on which to place a$20 bet.

My non-scientific non-statistical sampling of fictional works about aliens finds that to be a fairly common theme.

12. Dec 18, 2007

### EnumaElish

Excellent point.

Although a small, non-random sample can provide accurate information about the population, one can not be statistically certain about the accuracy of the result, unless it is part of a larger survey design (quota, cluster, or strata).

My question about "representation" was deliberately biased toward being conservative -- i.e., even if you put aside all quibbles about the sampling method (e.g. self-selection), it is still a very small percentage to accurately predict anything about the rest of the PF, let alone the scientific community, not to mention the entire human population.

At the end of the day, I know that the value of the \$20 in my wallet is a function of what the "balance" of the people think it is worth, much more than what I think it is worth.