Experiments/Theories in Socioeconomics

Dated Nov 21, 2020; last modified on Mon, 05 Sep 2022

Programmable Money

South Korea’s COVID-19 stimulus payments were programmed to expire in Aug 2020, and could only be spent at qualifying shops. Australia’s cashless welfare card [currently in pilot stages] cannot be withdrawn as cash, nor used at alcohol, tobacco and gambling joints.

Monzo, a UK-based digital-first mobile baking app, supports IFTTT recipes. This enables budgeting logic, “If I spend at KFC, then move $5 to my penalty pot”.

The Self-Esteem Craze in America

In the 80s and 90s, there was research that low self-esteem was related to undesirable results, but there wasn’t any conclusive work that high esteem causes good outcomes. The self-esteem craze was defined by a simple inspiring message, a lot of half-baked research, prevalent confirmation bias, cottage-industry (books, videos, seminars). Self-esteem grew into a panacea for academic performance, crime, teen pregnancy until more rigorous research arrived. Similar overhyped[?] panaceas: power posing, growth mindset, grit.

Beware of theories that I want to be true so bad that I’m hesitant to fact check them, and convince myself otherwise.


  1. Moneyness: Programmable money isn't new, we've had it for ages. John Paul Koning. jpkoning.blogspot.com . Nov 19, 2020.
  2. Recipes for Programmable Money. Elsden, Chris; Feltwell, Tom; Lawson, Shaun; Vines, John. Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 2019, No. 251. Northumbria University. dl.acm.org . 2019.
  3. How the Self-Esteem Craze Took Over America - Science of Us. Jesse Singal. www.thecut.com . May 30, 2017.