# Metric system is dumb, and here is why (Rant) (2014)

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insanejedi

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Edited By insanejedi

I always get into these international conversations between people from Canada and Europe saying how backwards Americans are for using the imperial system, and nothing boils my blood up more than not only unearned but also completely wrong intellectual superiority.

#### But everything is base 10 it makes it all easier to convert!

This the most cited reason for using the metric system is using the base 10 formula. Kilometer is 1000 meters, a kilogram is 1000 grams ect. But everyone seems to fail to realize that you can do the same thing with the imperial system.

Take the kilopound, it's 1000 pounds, a cenipound could be 1/100 of a pound. You've just taken the base 10 advantage of the metric system and applied it to the imperial system with little to no reducation of training.

Also the reason why the conversions of imperial are always 3 feet = yard, 12 inches = 1 feet is because base 3, 4 numbers have more factors than base 10.

Numbers that can divide by base 10

• 1, 2 ,5, 10

Numbers that can divide by base 12 (12 inches = foot)

• 1,2,3, 4, 6, 12

Numbers that can divide by base 16 (16 Ounces = 1 Pound)

• 1, 2, 4, 8, 12

As a result you can divide 12 by 3 or 4 without ending up with decimals or reconverting the whole unit system. This is why it has been used for centuries because it was easier to deal with in everyday life without ending up in tedious decimal places.

#### Imperial is arbitrary and unscientific, It's based on a kings foot for example!

News flash, metric is just as arbitrary and unscientific as the imperial system.

Take a Metre for example. A meter was based between the distance between the north pole to the equator and was designed to be 1/10 000 000 of that distance. And then it turned out to be wrong, to fix that and to base it on a more scientific number it became the distance a speed of light traveled in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 seconds.

Wow like that couldn't have been done with by a yard! A yard could have just been redefined as the distance the speed of light travels in 1/274131050 seconds and would have been just as scientific.

Literally every measurement in metric not only is completely arbitrary but is based on an object that doesn't even exist. A kilogram is based on several prototypes that are sealed and not allowed access to, or this theoretical silicon sphere that weighs 1kg, but nature prevents you from making a 100% perfect sphere, so it's not even possible to have in the first place.

#### Why doesn't America just follow the rest of the world?

I don't know, maybe every reason on earth? Economical? Engineering? Cost of human life?

Yes, people will die directly as a result of officially changing to the metric system. Take the Gimli Glider where a passenger jet ran out of fuel half way through the flight because someone refueled it in pounds rather than kilograms.

Also it will take forever if not impossible to convert to the metric system, and no country in the world can claim to be fully converted.

Go look at European websites for goods and services and see how many times imperial measurements come up.

Samsung's German website sells TV sizes in Inches

Hunting Rifle maker Sako in Finland sells their gun lengths in inches

Home Depot in Canada still sells their lumber in inches

Why? Because when you decide to use metric, the rest of the worlds machines built in imperial don't magically change to metric. Screws, nuts, bolts, robotic cutting devices, ect on assets expected to last 20 years were built using imperial standard. Now when you make everything metric the dimensions are not the same so you end up with awkward measurements like soda bottles with 591ml.

As a result people who were going to be the "metric generation" ended up learning the imperial system anyways, and we have come to the worst case scenario of only knowing metric system in a world advertising itself as imperial.

How do I know? Because I'm a Canadian born in the late 80s when they instituted the metric system, and I still get angry everytime I get into an argument about the metric system inside of a steakhouse that is serving steak by the Oz."Metric is the only way to go! Can I have the 16 oz. Prime Rib please?"

Whats more annoying still is that the conversion process is insanely expensive.

Did you know a road sign costs over \$400 to install? Now imagine replacing every roadsigns in the United States for \$400 a piece for that system. Then pay for education, and also pay for the inevitable mistakes that will result of switching.

#### Is there a solution to the madness?

Yes, just let the free market decide which measurements make sense and which don't. You already have metric elements in the US out of no legislation to have them. 2L bottles of soda is an accepted measurement that for whatever reason have found to be logical. This way the system naturally progresses to the best standard.

groin

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I weigh 85 kilometers

Hunkulese

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#2  Edited By Hunkulese

The earth is flat and the centre of the universe damnit!

Achaemenid

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#3  Edited By Achaemenid

Sorry, but even if twelve divides evenly by more numbers than ten, I would still rather have my measurements system work within the decimal system. It's just so much easier work with in my head. Visualizing .25 or .33333 repeating isn't hard. Now if you want to move to a dozenal system of numbers, then you have my attention, but the benefit of having the way that weights and measures divide be exactly the same as the way pure numbers divide is too great in my opinion.

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All systems are arbitrary but the US does business, scientific research and engineering with the rest if the world who have ALL AGREED to use metric.

There is the reason to convert.

deactivated-62a216db3532b

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Like the argument between dvorak and qwerty keyboards, it doesn't really matter what you use. I am a carpentry in Canada and use both. Imperial when it comes to framing anything and metric when its time to form up concrete. I agree with the original post that things will probably sort themselves out eventually. Also I know dvorak is slightly faster and still don't care.

insanejedi

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All systems are arbitrary but the US does business, scientific research and engineering with the rest if the world who have ALL AGREED to use metric.

There is the reason to convert.

And the rest of the world has done business largest portion by cash with companies that have decided to sell their systems in imperial. (see TV's, lumber, and firearms). And by far the most defensive of all about the imperial system I know about are engineers and mechanics, especially aerospace engineers. The kilopound was developed by American engineers as a practical base 10 solution to an existing system.

BisonHero

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#7  Edited By BisonHero

Like the argument between dvorak and qwerty keyboards, it doesn't really matter what you use. I am a carpentry in Canada and use both. Imperial when it comes to framing anything and metric when its time to form up concrete. I agree with the original post that things will probably sort themselves out eventually. Also I know dvorak is slightly faster and still don't care.

Please elaborate. Are you a carpentry, or are you the very idea of carpentry? Are you the God of Carpentry in Canada? Or merely some manner of carpentry elemental? As an Ontarian, I feel like this is something I should know.

deactivated-62a216db3532b

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Like the argument between dvorak and qwerty keyboards, it doesn't really matter what you use. I am a carpentry in Canada and use both. Imperial when it comes to framing anything and metric when its time to form up concrete. I agree with the original post that things will probably sort themselves out eventually. Also I know dvorak is slightly faster and still don't care.

Please elaborate. Are you a carpentry, or are you the very idea of carpentry? Are you the God of Carpentry in Canada? Or merely some manner of carpentry elemental? As an Ontarian, I feel like this is something I should know.

Yes

Tennmuerti

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@talibanchic said:

All systems are arbitrary but the US does business, scientific research and engineering with the rest if the world who have ALL AGREED to use metric.

There is the reason to convert.

And the rest of the world has done business largest portion by cash with companies that have decided to sell their systems in imperial. (see TV's, lumber, and firearms). And by far the most defensive of all about the imperial system I know about are engineers and mechanics, especially aerospace engineers. The kilopound was developed by American engineers as a practical base 10 solution to an existing system.

A solution you say?

hmmmm

That implies a lot...

Hunter5024

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I enjoyed this rant a lot.

forkboy

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I like metric.

mortal_sb

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#13  Edited By mortal_sb

so you're saying this:

is easier and makes more sense than this:

sorry, but no.

oh and fyi: germany sells their tvs in inches (zoll) because the international production standard for tvs is inches. (they also show cm on ads) why? because the first tvs where produced and advertised in inches.

so if you're saying a foot is always a foot but two people have two different shoe sizes, e.g. 8 and 12, how can they meassure the same thing? they still have to know the mandatory, actual length.

Cuuniyevo

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Only tangentially related, but hard drives marketed as containing "x" GB of space, and then in the fine print saying that 1 GB = 1,000,000,000 Bytes has always annoyed me. I am in favor of as many measurement systems as possible, just to keep things interesting, but misinformation for the sake of marketing should not be tolerated. 1 GB =/= 1,000,000,000 Bytes or 1,000^3; 1 GB = 1073741824 Bytes or 1024^3.

CByrne

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#15  Edited By CByrne

Where do you stand on the Celsius vs. Fahrenheit?

As US person that writes software for a quality control company and sees databases daily from all over the world, I can only hope we move to the metric system. Pretty much any manufacturing company in the US that is actually profitable does everything in metric and European standards. I'm talking size,weight, temperature, and even date structure is always internationally friendly. US military operates on metric unless it's equipment that was in service before the Korean war like 50. caliber. Also Drugs. Drugs operate solely on the metric system. The law for possession of drugs is always written in metric. So technically our drug addicts and dealers are actually internationally ahead of most Americans. #sarcasm

Personally I don't really care, I know and use both daily, but I use metric stuff more and more each month. Even my old American made cars (one from 89 and 98) are both metric.

CByrne

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@bisonhero said:

Like the argument between dvorak and qwerty keyboards, it doesn't really matter what you use. I am a carpentry in Canada and use both. Imperial when it comes to framing anything and metric when its time to form up concrete. I agree with the original post that things will probably sort themselves out eventually. Also I know dvorak is slightly faster and still don't care.

Please elaborate. Are you a carpentry, or are you the very idea of carpentry? Are you the God of Carpentry in Canada? Or merely some manner of carpentry elemental? As an Ontarian, I feel like this is something I should know.

Yes

This should win comment exchange of the year.

teaoverlord

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#17  Edited By teaoverlord

The free market will fix everything!

Edit: Also, as an American, the metric system is way easier to convert units in. I know fractions are scary, but I think we can handle this.

cheapandtacky

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The metric system is not purely arbitrary in the same way the Imperial system is.

1cm3 = 1ml

1ml of water = 1gram

Water freezes at 0 degrees centigrade

Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade

I would be interested to hear comparative Imperial equivalents

Anyway I'm pretty certain you are trolling or have never studied any serious science,

pr1mus

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You shouldn't get yourself worked up like that for a losing battle for an archaic system. Metric is more consistent and easier to learn for everyone and the world at large as already made its choice. The sooner every country and every industry standardize things the better.

Sanity

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There both easy to understand, learn both and be smarter for it.

SchrodngrsFalco

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Fahrenheit also makes more sense than Celcius..... right. No matter the divisibility or how you spin it, base 10 will always be easier to work with mentally with large computations. Also, lbs are base10? I don't have a problem with any system of measurement, so long as it's base10.

teaoverlord

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Water freezes at 0 degrees centigrade

Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade

Usually I prefer the metric system, but I like fahrenheit for weather, 0-100°F covers the range of temperatures you see outside pretty well.

Achaemenid

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#23  Edited By Achaemenid

Just to give non-Americans a taste of how weird the imperial system is, I'm american and I probably couldn't even tell you what all the conversions are for the imperial system. Twelve inches is a foot, and three feet is a yard, and like, uh...that's about all that I'm sure about.

AlexW00d

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Pretty sure most US industries and businesses use Metric anyway, but hey, USA KNOWS BEST.

ElixirBronze

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#25  Edited By ElixirBronze

Sounds to me like OP just needs to justify growing up with and getting used to a backwards ass system that doesn't need to exist.

Victorboris1

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The international scientific community, as well as a vast majority of the American scientific community, agree that the metric system is clearly superior. I think I'll listen to what the smart guys say.

Scotto

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Kind of a self-defeating argument. Most of the rest of the world uses metric, so the "free market" has already spoken.

Only reason US sticks to Imperial, is because that's what Americans know - unless you're in the sciences or engineering fields, where Americans have largely used metric for a while now

Also, you haven't really argued for why metric is dumb, so much as you've tried to argue that Imperial is "just as good".

TechHits

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@cbyrne said:

@bisonhero said:

Like the argument between dvorak and qwerty keyboards, it doesn't really matter what you use. I am a carpentry in Canada and use both. Imperial when it comes to framing anything and metric when its time to form up concrete. I agree with the original post that things will probably sort themselves out eventually. Also I know dvorak is slightly faster and still don't care.

Please elaborate. Are you a carpentry, or are you the very idea of carpentry? Are you the God of Carpentry in Canada? Or merely some manner of carpentry elemental? As an Ontarian, I feel like this is something I should know.

Yes

This should win comment exchange of the year.

I second

Jesus_Phish

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Ah it's easy man. 12 inches is 1 foot. 3 feet make up a yard and 1760 yards make up a mile. Simple really(!)

Imperial measurements are used by old world trades and trades that stuck with them because of tradition. Metric is a better system. TVs are sold in imperial measurements because that's how it started and people like saying they've a big 50 inch tv instead of "I've got me a nice 127cm teevee.", though I have in rare circumstances seen tv's listed in cm.

gkhan

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#32  Edited By gkhan

Here's why metric is superior: assuming you know the basic lengths, that 12 inches make a foot, 3 feet make a yard and 1760 yards make a mile, then tell me how many inches there are in a mile? Unless you've memorized the answer, you'd be hard-pressed to calculate 12*3*1760 in your head.

Try the same experiment in metric: there are 10 centimeters in a decimeter, 10 decimeters in a meter, and 1000 meters in a kilometer. How many centimeters are there in a kilometer? The calculation is trivial, it's obviously 100,000. You might argue that this is a calculation you'd never need, but that's totally not true. If you had a map or a satellite image that has a scale of (for instance) 1:10,000, you can immediately figure out that 1 centimeter on the map is equal to 100 meters in real life.

You might then argue that I just cheated with that example, using a scale that's a power of 10, which is obviously trivial to do in a system that's based on powers of ten. But lets say that the scale is 1:3,245 (or whatever random number you want). The calculation is almost as easy, since you know that 1 centimeter on the map is equal to 3,245 centimeters in reality, and 3,245 centimeters is equal to 32.45 meters. See how much simpler all these calculations are in metric?

Another example: lets say you have a pool that is 10 feet wide, 6 feet deep and 40 feet long. How many gallons of water can fit into it? You can calculate how many cubic feet there are easily, but do any of you know off-hand how many cubic feet there are in a gallon? And if you do, can you do the calculation in your head?

Lets compare with an equivalent metric problem: the pool is 3 meters wide, 2 meters deep and 20 meters long. How many liters of water fit into it? Since 1 cubic meter is equal to 1,000 liters, then the calculation is trivial. There is 3*2*20 = 120 cubic meters of water in the pool, so there's 120,000 liters of water in the pool. Simple as pie.

This is why the metric system is awesome. Calculations like these are just so much simpler in metric than in imperial. It's not just science, but in many everyday calculations, the metric system just makes so much more sense. Just make the switch and start using it, and you'll notice it right away.

Edit: the first problem should be "how many inches are there in a mile", "not how many inches are there in a yard" (though that's also a good example, by the way). Fixed it.

Clonedzero

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I'm bad at math so i skipped most of the math stuff. I think the entire world should use the same system, and speak the same language (i dont care what language that is). It'd be easier and better for everyone.

But really, fuck math. That shit sucks!

insanejedi

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#34  Edited By insanejedi

People are still citing the base 10 advantage despite my proof that you could still apply it to the imperial system and get the exact same advantage. On top of that you have more choices of what units to use because they aren't equivalent.

#### But everything is base 10 it makes it all easier to convert!

This the most cited reason for using the metric system is using the base 10 formula. Kilometer is 1000 meters, a kilogram is 1000 grams ect. But everyone seems to fail to realize that you can do the same thing with the imperial system.

Take the kilopound, it's 1000 pounds, a cenipound could be 1/100 of a pound. You've just taken the base 10 advantage of the metric system and applied it to the imperial system with little to no reducation of training.

Also the reason why the conversions of imperial are always 3 feet = yard, 12 inches = 1 feet is because base 3, 4 numbers have more factors than base 10.

Numbers that can divide by base 10

• 1, 2 ,5, 10

Numbers that can divide by base 12 (12 inches = foot)

• 1,2,3, 4, 6, 12

Numbers that can divide by base 16 (16 Ounces = 1 Pound)

• 1, 2, 4, 8, 12

As a result you can divide 12 by 3 or 4 without ending up with decimals or reconverting the whole unit system. This is why it has been used for centuries because it was easier to deal with in everyday life without ending up in tedious decimal places.

teaoverlord

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People are still citing the base 10 advantage despite my proof that you could still apply it to the imperial system and get the exact same advantage.

You could, I guess. but base 10 is actually how the metric system works, not just something you technically could do.

SolongWrex

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I already have the metric amounts for most imperial units memorized, so I'm doing fine with metric over here. Never really felt like I was missing something by restricting myself to base 10. Sometimes American food sites like to make life difficult though. Their unit conversions assume metric people don't use ANY non-metric units, so something extremely simple like a tablespoon gets converted to milliliters. We're not robots, dammit.

Jazz_Bcaz

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#37  Edited By Jazz_Bcaz

It doesn't really matter considering the metric system tends to be used by the wider scientific community, even within America. Anything else is just colloquial (not all the time I know), and this may be news to you, but there are plenty of people in the UK (older folks generally) that use the imperial system for day to day language. Most people are probably comfortable using both. I'm completely at a loss when someone describes their weight to me in kg or their height in cm but if I'm doing something that requires accuracy and clear communication like making something, it's metric every time.

What do you mean things will sort themselves out anyway? There's no debate, no one cares what the average American uses, and the people that do care just use metric anyway.

kindgineer

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This again? Why can't there be two?

Oh, right. Just something to bitch about again for the small inconveniences you face once or twice in your life time.

Jellybones

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If we converted to centipounds and kilopounds, why not make the full conversion to a more reasonable system? What is the upside of replacing the mile with 5.28 kilofeet? It's still so arbitrary. All for the sake of the three countries that still haven't converted...

Achaemenid

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#40  Edited By Achaemenid

You could make up random version of the metric system units which work on base twelve or sixteen if you wanted to. You seem to be proposing some sort of made up system which is simultaneously metric and imperial? That's really not the same thing as advancing the imperial system and If you have to do that in order to make imperial viable you're conceding quite a bit.

insanejedi

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@cbyrne said:

Where do you stand on the Celsius vs. Fahrenheit?

As US person that writes software for a quality control company and sees databases daily from all over the world, I can only hope we move to the metric system. Pretty much any manufacturing company in the US that is actually profitable does everything in metric and European standards. I'm talking size,weight, temperature, and even date structure is always internationally friendly. US military operates on metric unless it's equipment that was in service before the Korean war like 50. caliber. Also Drugs. Drugs operate solely on the metric system. The law for possession of drugs is always written in metric. So technically our drug addicts and dealers are actually internationally ahead of most Americans. #sarcasm

Personally I don't really care, I know and use both daily, but I use metric stuff more and more each month. Even my old American made cars (one from 89 and 98) are both metric.

Depends, on the use, but for everyday use most people would benefit from Fahrenheit on a day to day basis than Celsius.

For example, when people talk about the weather, it might initally see that 0C at freezing is useful to know if there is ice outside, but in reality it's not actually that useful.

Fahrenheit 0 indicates that ice will NOT melt with any quantity of ice (that's how the system originated). Most of the world still use salt for deicing, and if it is below 0 fahrenheit it would indicate to you to drive carefully because there WILL be ice on the road and there is NOTHING the local city can do about it.

Then again I prefer to boil water at using C, and i prefer cooking with F, except for modernist molecular gastronomy recepies which is more science then I start prefer using C.

jgf

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#42  Edited By jgf

I think you confuse and mix up several things here. You can't claim "intellectual superiorty" based on the metrics you use to measure something. What you can do is to use metrics that make your computations easier and more streamlined. The metric system does that, but that doesn't make a society intellectual superior simply by using it. That has nothing to do with it. And I agree with you that anybody who claims that is not a very bright mind.

The same goes for scientific. A foot is not more or less scientific just because its based on (someones?) actual feet. The metric system is nice because its easy to learn. You only have to know what a meter is and you automatically can infer what a millimeter, kilometer, etc is. You can't infer how long a mile is by knowing how long a feet or an inch is. Its considered good because its easy to learn and needs only few (arguably arbitrary) definitions (axioms) that its based on. In general you consider something scientifically beautiful if you only need very few axioms that you need to know and can infer anything else from them. E.g. the "beauty"of the metric system would not change if one decides that the length of a meter is the same as that of 1 foot.

I completely agree that it does not make sense to convert all road signs etc. to the metric system just because. In the first place the people who live in the US have to feel comfortable with the system they use. As long as they do, everything is fine. As soon as they don't they are free to change it as they please.

huser

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It doesn't really matter considering the metric system tends to be used by the wider scientific community, even within America. Anything else is just colloquial (not all the time I know), and this may be news to you, but there are plenty of people in the UK (older folks generally) that use the imperial system for day to day language. Most people are comfortable using the imperial system for that.

What do you mean things will sort themselves out anyway? There's no debate, no one cares what the average American uses, and the people that do care just use metric anyway.

Pretty much the answer. Other than making engineering courses harder by having to keep the units straight in working with slugs into newtons and everyday usage, metric is just easier.

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Anybody with a basic understanding of math already knew everything you just said. Of course the metric system is better than the imperial system; there's no denying that. But we're so ingrained in the imperial system that changing to a metric system isn't simple at all. Think about it; does it make more sense to sell buy a gallon of milk, or a 128 fl oz of milk?

diz

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People are still citing the base 10 advantage despite my proof that you could still apply it to the imperial system and get the exact same advantage. On top of that you have more choices of what units to use because they aren't equivalent.

But you can't get the same advantage with the imperial system: Your example of a "kilo-pounds" would run into the same conversion issues when converting your "kilo-ounces" and your "centi-inches" would not relate to "centi-feet" in base 10. You'd be stuck with the same imperial conversion issues with the added complexity of a needless pseudo-decimalisation and additional naming conventions.

The SI system is demonstrably more logical - as other posters have demonstrated. There is not too much issue in learning them and being confident in using them both though.

I think we need to go further and decimalise time itself.

49th

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#46  Edited By 49th

nope it's stupid

jgf

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#47  Edited By jgf

Anybody with a basic understanding of math already knew everything you just said. Of course the metric system is better than the imperial system; there's no denying that. But we're so ingrained in the imperial system that changing to a metric system isn't simple at all. Think about it; does it make more sense to sell buy a gallon of milk, or a 128 fl oz of milk?

I mostly agree with you but the last part of that argument is a bit flawed. You obviously would use package sizes to sell goods in that fit the system. E.g. I'm not buying 3.78541 liter packages of milk around here. I buy 1, 2 or 5 liter packages. So in that way its another reason why one would not want to switch to the metric system in the us. People are comfortable with their known package sizes and it would feel odd to them if they change.

Thats also why simply replacing signs would not work. Nobody wants a sign saying "roadwork 1.60934km ahead". So you would also need to change the position of signs. Thats simply not a realistic option.

Jellybones

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#48  Edited By Jellybones

Anybody with a basic understanding of math already knew everything you just said. Of course the metric system is better than the imperial system; there's no denying that. But we're so ingrained in the imperial system that changing to a metric system isn't simple at all. Think about it; does it make more sense to sell buy a gallon of milk, or a 128 fl oz of milk?

Ounces are Imperial. Why would you have such a hard time understanding what a liter of milk is? Hell, what I have a hard time keeping straight is the arbitrary foot-yard-mile, cup-pint-gallon nonsense.

audioBusting

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#49  Edited By audioBusting

"base 3, 4 numbers have more factors than base 10." why isn't it in base 2 then? It's got more factors.

I mean, I don't know, this seems like a cognitive dissonance. We count in base 10 but imperial measures in base 3 or 4 depending on the situation. Decimal points are used less, but there are multiple different units to use for each scale. That sounds like a less convenient usage of fractions. It's a lot of esoteric knowledge to memorize. The metric system is easily scalable in comparison.

diz

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Depends, on the use, but for everyday use most people would benefit from Fahrenheit on a day to day basis than Celsius.

For example, when people talk about the weather, it might initally see that 0C at freezing is useful to know if there is ice outside, but in reality it's not actually that useful.

Fahrenheit 0 indicates that ice will NOT melt with any quantity of ice (that's how the system originated). Most of the world still use salt for deicing, and if it is below 0 fahrenheit it would indicate to you to drive carefully because there WILL be ice on the road and there is NOTHING the local city can do about it.

Then again I prefer to boil water at using C, and i prefer cooking with F, except for modernist molecular gastronomy recepies which is more science then I start prefer using C.

Most people? How many people experience temperatures of -17.78 degrees Celcius? Additionally, the melting point for Salt (sodium chloride) brine is actually -21.1 degrees! The only place where we can agree is at -40 degrees.