Originally posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

GreatSeal.com (not affiliated with the U.S. government) provides an excellent summary history of the formulation of the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States.  The Great Seal is, of course, depicted, front and back, on the back of every dollar bill.

The eye in the triangle at the top of the pyramid motif has evoked recurrent speculation down the years as to Masonic, or even “Illuminati,” symbolism.  The reality is much simpler. The original dsign suggestion “was made by Pierre Du Simitière, the consultant and artist on the first Great Seal committee …”

Simitière’s design …


This design was not approved by Congress, but six years later, William Barton of the third Great Seal committee suggested the eye for the reverse side of the Great Seal: “A Pyramid of thirteen Strata… In the Zenith, an Eye, surrounded with a Glory.” (“Glory” is the heraldic term for rays of light.)

Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson liked Barton’s idea, but added a triangle around the eye and created two new mottoes. Congress approved Thomson’s design for the reverse side of the Great Seal, which specified:

                                               “In the Zenith an Eye in a triangle surrounded with a glory

According to Thomson’s explanation: the eye and the motto Annuit Coeptisallude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause.

The Declaration of Independence appealed for authority, in part, to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” 

The gold standard works, technically, by virtue of a law of nature called distributed (or group) intelligence.

As previously cited here, but bears repeating,

New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki wrote a best seller about this, summarizing a lot of the best research, titled The Wisdom of Crowds.  It’s a populist classic–not in the “torch and pitchfork” sense, simply in demonstrating the truth of the old maxim “All of us are smarter than any of us.” …

A classic demonstration of group intelligence is the jelly-beans-in-the-jar experiment, in which invariably the group’s estimate is superior to the vast majority of the individual guesses.  When finance professor Jack Treynor ran the experiment in his class with a jar that held 850 beans, the group estimate was 871.  Only one of the fifty-six people in the class made a better guess. …

[T]he group’s guess will not be better than that of every single person in the group each time.  In many (perhaps most) cases, there will be a few people who do better than the group.  … But there is no evidence in these studies that certain people consistently outperform the group.

The market is by far the best judge of its desired liquidity balances.  The iconography on the back of the dollar bill, our most fundamental unit of account, in alluding to Providence suggests that our welfare is best served by following “the Laws of Nature” and not delegating such a crucial and delicate matter to the discretion of a committee of experts.

The Federal Open Market committee indeed resembles, however superficially, the mythical “Illuminati.”  The current system of fiduciary management neither is consistent with our national character or charter, nor has it proved beneficial to the people of America or the world.