Roughly 5,280 Reasons America Should Have Gone Metric A Long Time Ago

Defining Our Terms: Metric vs. Ye Olde English

If you’ve been to elementary school in the United States, you’ve encountered the metric system. As you’ll remember, it’s a system based on ten. There are 100 centimeters in a meter. 1,000 meters in a kilometer, etc. This goes for volume, weights, distances, mass, force, energy, power, and temperature. There are handy prefixes  to delineate which way you are moving in the system: micro, milli, centi, deci, deca, hecto, kilo, and mega.

Americans use what are known as the “U.S. Customary Units” (USCU) a descendent of the “English System” and cousin to the nearly extinct “Imperial System.” It’s based on old farmer body parts, the distance llama spit flies in a  fair wind, and the length of wood best suited for burning witches. There are no handy prefixes. There are no prefixes. Unless you include the curse words you mutter when you forget how many 2/3 cups are in a gallon. There are fractions, however. Lots and lots of fractions.

The differences between USCU and Imperial Units are very small. Since they are both derived from the ancient English System, I will take my cue from “The Metric Maven” and refer to USCU as the “Ye Olde English” system both for clarity and out of spite.


Here are Some Reasons We Should Have Gone Metric a Long Time Ago:

1. The Metric System is a Better System

We are by and large, a base-ten species (with a few notable exceptions), likely due to the number of fingers on our hands (unless your hands have been mangled by freak carpentry accidents caused by poor conversions from centimeters to inches). We think in tens. We live in tens. We make love in tens.

Percentages are based on how much of 100 something is. We use percentages all the freaking time.

Decimals. Decimals are much easier to understand than fractions. Ask any librarian.

Scalability. You can move up or down in any quantity easily. Look at a map. See those two cities 10 centimeters apart? Want to know how many kilometers are between them? Just scale up. Easy-peasy.

It’s symmetrical and beautiful and synchronous.  At what temperature does water freeze? Zero. At what temperature does it boil? 100. Simple. Like I said, humans really go for things that are multiples of 10. And before you get all bent out of shape about atmospheric temperatures, see the entry for Decimals above.

Universal Application. The overwhelming majority of human beings on earth use the metric system on a daily basis for all of their needs and have found it to be superior to their old way of doing things.

Which means…


2. We Are Pretty Much Alone in the World

Burma, Liberia, and the good ole’ retrograde US of A are the only countries on earth that haven’t fully adopted the metric system.

Countries in red haven't yet succeeded in fully adopting the metric system.

Countries in red haven’t yet succeeded in fully adopting the metric system.

Let that sink in for a minute. China, Russia, Canada, and Mexico all use the metric system. The wealthiest nations on earth: Qatar, Luxemburg, Singapore. The poorest nations on earth: Somalia, Burundi, Central African Republic. When ISIS or Al Qaeda plan to attack the United States, they use the metric system. When the European Space Agency lands a probe on a comet they use the metric system.

All of our bitterest enemies, strongest rivals, and closest allies use the metric system. America may have an outsized influence on world affairs, but we aren’t bigger than the rest of the world combined.

There are myriad reasons that this matters. Brotherhood of man, assisting in supplying (or receiving) international aid, among others, and these are all fine and good, but even the fact that we are the laughing stock of the rest of the world doesn’t seem to move the needle for metrication deniers.

Faux-folksy politicians like to wax eloquent about how the United States is supposed to be the greatest nation on earth. Yet, strangely, we are decades behind the rest of the planet on this issue (and several others as it turns out).

The fact that we are in the minority is to our disadvantage.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading.


3. Ye Olde English / Metric Conversion Errors Cost the United States Millions of Dollars Every Year

In an increasingly global marketplace, being an outlier is more than an inconvenience, it’s a liability. Any company that imports or exports products, that uses foreign parts or components, or interacts with weights and measures in virtually any capacity is forced to deal with conversions between the metric and Ye Olde English systems constantly.

Conversion errors occur frequently and catastrophically. I used to work for an import/export  company. We dealt with metric conversions on a daily basis. Despite copious due diligence, errors were made. Money was lost. I can only imagine that this reality is multiplied by thousands of businesses each year resulting in millions of dollars of lost revenue.

And those are just the run-of-the-millimeter conversion errors. Every once in a while we get in the mood to really outdo ourselves and vomit gobs of good money down the toilet.

Exhibit A) Tokyo Disney’s Space Mountain had to be shut down because an axle on one of the roller coasters snapped. The cause? Conversion error.

Exhibit B) A Canadian passenger plane ran out of fuel due to not one but two conversion errors.

Exhibit C) Perhaps most famous of all, NASA’s Mars Orbiter spacecraft crashed in 1999 because one team of engineers used Ye Olde English while the rest (along with the rest of NASA) used metric. The result? $125 MILLION taxpayer dollars burned up in the Martian atmosphere. Don’t hate on NASA either. Them’s my boys. Hate on the outdated, outmoded, American policy that forces people to switch between two systems in the first place.



4. Conversions Cost Time & Effort

Every time Americans interact with the metric system they are forced to make a choice. They can either take time to convert from the anachronous moth-eaten Ye Old English system, or scratch their head in befuddlement.

In a world where seconds, nay, miliseconds matter in world events, why would we want to be minutes behind?

This isn’t just a problem for Mickey Mouse, NASA, or international shipping conglomerates. I mean anyone who tries to mechanic a foreign-made car or (God-forbid)  calculate their luggage weight before traveling abroad.  Americans abroad are lost in hectares of kilometers, kilograms and milliliters. Take any tour of a culturally significant site outside of the hallowed USA and any mention of weight, distance, or temperature will struggle to penetrate our mental faculties constipated with outdated Ye Olde English yokelisms.

Yes, I know you can just Google it. By why? Why bother? Why not use the better system in the first place and save the risk of wasted money and wasted time converting anything?

Wasted time is tragic, but befuddlement is tragic too.


5. Our Backward System Hurts Our Children

You know where Americans rank in math and science? Poorly. You know what’s partially to blame? Conversions.  I’m not saying that switching systems will magically fix our pitiful school performance. But it will clear one hurdle for our kids. All that time we spend teaching two different measurement systems and the means of converting from one system to another could be spent teaching them something useful and relevant.

Teaching our kids Ye Olde English is like teaching them to gather food with sharpened sticks and blunt rocks.  It doesn’t make sense any more. There is a better way. Staying in a retrograde system doesn’t help anyone, it puts our kids behind.

What’s more? All the advances in science and math going on in the rest of the world are blindfolded from our kids and unintelligible to them because they don’t intuitively understand what the units mean. Fewer kids get excited about math and science. Fewer kids study it.

We fall further behind.


6. Metric Conversion Errors Could Literally Be Killing You.

Lumber Liquidators Store. Photo by Dwight Burdette.

Lumber Liquidators Store. Photo by Dwight Burdette.

In February 2016, the Centers for Disease Control announced that it was revising a report on unsafe levels of formaldehyde found in Lumber Liquidators flooring laminates sourced from China. The problem? The CDC’s original report improperly used meters (as the Chinese suppliers did) in its calculations instead of feet (the system used in American construction) in calculating ceiling heights. This downplayed the risks associated with the formaldehyde levels. The revised report, which corrected the conversions, places the risks 3 times higher than the original estimates.

In other words, because the United States uses a different measurement system than the rest of the world, a government agency nearly made a faulty report which could have resulted in cancer for as many as 30 people per data set, as opposed to the 9 as originally reported.

An understandable knee-jerk response might be to blame the CDC for its incompetence in this case. Fair enough. The point remains, however, that if we were a fully metricated country, this, and similar conversion problems would never have occurred.


7. Good news! You already use Metric Units!

Surprise! Americans use the metric system every day!


  • We measure our soft drinks in liters! And our engines! And our wine!
  • Our athletes swim and run 100 meters, 5k, and 10k distances! At the same time!
  • Want to go to jail for possessing illegal drugs? Smuggle-in some kilos of cocaine and the DEA will prosecute you with the metric system!
  • Would you rather fight your neighborhood drug kingpin for distribution control in your hometown? Take a 9 millimeter handgun and shoot that dude. This is America!
  • Oops! Gun battle didn’t go so well? That’s okay, just go to the hospital where they’ll treat you using… THE METRIC SYSTEM! Yay! Need 1,000 Cubic Centimeters of Morphine STAT? They got it! All your medication will come in metric units for the rest of your life.
  • Want to rethink your career choice? Good idea. Perhaps you should consider going into computer programming, where kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes are measured metrically. Or satisfy your inner artist with digital photography which uses megapixels.
  • Still prefer shooting people with guns? Join the US Army which measures distances in klicks, military slang for kilometers.
  • Want to blow even bigger stuff up? Become a Nuclear scientist and measure nuclear blasts in kilotons of TNT.
  • Or, you know what? Just become any scientist in any field, whatsoever. Or an engineer, for that matter. Virtually all American scientists use metric units for measurements.
  • Do you know why we use calories to measure our food intake? Because a milliliter of water takes up one cubic centimeter of space and requires exactly one calorie of energy to increase its temperature by one degree centigrade. See how beautifully the metric system locks in with itself? Try figuring out what the relationships between those things are in the Olde English System. You’ll break your neck.

Many of these are holdovers from America’s frustratingly half-assed first attempt at going metric in the 1970s. Some, however, are the result of agencies or industries just wholesale deciding that metric is the better way, and following through with metrication on their own. Their staying power in American life is evidence that we can, in fact, make the switch to metric, and that it won’t kill us or make the stars and stripes dissolve into a smoldering poop pile on the ground.



8. Winners Never Quit / Quitters Never Win

Right now we’re losing.

It is true that we tried this once. Lots of people like to complain about how they spent the 1970s converting between metric and Ye Olde English. How it was such a waste of time. How they could have spent that time doing something else.

We quit in the middle of the transition. We gave up. We said that something the rest of the planet has done was too difficult for the USA.

The thing is, if we had stuck to metrication then, we wouldn’t have these problems now. I would have been raised in a metric world and the temporary discomfort of my parent’s generation would now be ancient history. The problem of a world with two systems will not go away. The longer we wait, the further behind we will get. We need to make the switch now, bite the (9mm) bullet and get it over with. That way my kids don’t have to have these headaches.


Which leads me to…

9. The Reasons Against Going Metric Are Insultingly Stupid

Generally the arguments/sentiments against going metric fall into three camps:

CAMP A – The Pessimistic Prophets of Doom:

This will be too much work! Can you imagine trying to convert all this stuff to metric? It would be chaos! We’d lose our minds. This is an impossible transition. It would never work!

Sure, it would be difficult for everyone, no question.  It will require a lot of money and a lot of effort. But not more effort or money than it will cost to keep our out-dated system in place for the long run. And, it is not impossible. As an example why don’t you look at ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES ON EARTH which have managed, somehow, by hook or crook, to figure out a way of getting it to work for them.


CAMP B – The Sentimental Sycophants:

The Ye Olde English system connects us to the past, to our ancestors. We are maintaining a way of life that has existed for hundreds of years. If we give it up it will just fade away and disappear.

The argument from tradition is an understandable and useful motivator for preserving cultural institutions such as dying languages, traditional dress, folk music, and dancing. It makes no sense however, in regards to mathematics, science, or technology. If we had applied these traditionalist protectionist ideas to mathematics, we never would have used the calculator, the internet, or modern GPS. We would still be navigating using a compass and sextant. No, actually, a sextant is too advanced, we’d still be blindly following herds of caribou across the frozen north.

Technology and innovation require that we prune away antiquated technology and modes of thinking. The Amish are entitled to their way of life, sure, but I’m willing to bet those guys won’t be the ones to come up with a cure for cancer.


CAMP C – The Prevaricating Patriots:

The metric system is UN-AMERICAN! It has to do with everything we don’t stand for. It was developed by the FRENCH for crying out loud! We are independent free thinkers. We don’t care about the rest of the world.

You don’t seem to have a problem with Ferraris or Gangnam Style. We live on a planet that is also home to non-American human beings. Choosing to impale yourself on the pinnacle of jingoism mountain is not only stupid, it endangers the rest of us. Just because it’s foreign doesn’t mean it’s bad. Despite what you may have heard, other countries are better at things than we are.

Choosing to stay with Ye Olde English is like choosing to believe that the world is flat. Sure, you can get through most of your day without your inane and backward belief system harming you, but you will still be wrong, and if you ever choose to wander away from the shore, you might just die of scurvy.


But here’s the kicker. Are you ready? I don’t think you’re ready. I’ll give you a minute.

*Drums fingers on table*

Ready, now?


Too bad, ’cause here it comes.

Our Non-Metric Units Were Not Created by Americans.



We didn’t invent them. The British did. Yeah, those British. The Ye Olde English System belongs to the Evil Empire we hated so much we fought two wars to be independent of. Those British. This is THEIR invention. You know what else is culturally British? Tea. And what do we do with tea? That’s right. Throw it into Boston harbor. I would suggest a similar strategy for their measurement system. A system which the British themselves abandoned fifty years ago.

So, if you want to be a colonial holdover to your imperial oppressors, and hate your country, and prefer to pledge allegiance to the queen of England and her outdated and abandoned measurement system that’s your prerogative I guess. But don’t wave an American flag when you do.

That’s all I’m saying.


10. In Conclusion

I can accept American exceptionalism when it puts us ahead of the pack. When it’s, you know, to our advantage to be different. But when it puts us behind the rest of the world it feels myopic and stupid. I mean, this is science-denying / moonlander-denying levels of stupidity.

Staying in our old-fashioned measurement system inhibits our young people from engaging in scientific discovery. Since we can’t readily understand what a big deal it is that the Voyager spacecraft move at 16km per second, the match never touches the fuse of our imagination. There is no curiosity. No engagement. No advancement.

We are left with sentimental feelings about the things we used to do instead of leading the charge into the future. Instead of innovating we ruminate. We watch the dust settle on our monuments to the past.

Just change it already.

It won’t hurt that bad.


11 – 5,280 Further Reading

The Metric Maven Blog 

Metric on Reddit 

You Know What The Rest of the World Has Figured Out? The Metric System

The Oatmeal: Senior Year Science 

More than a Mile Behind: America and the Metric System

From Measles to the Metric System: Progress Is Not a Communist Plot

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

UK Metric Association 

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Oh, and just in case you didn’t accept my first premise that the Metric system is inherently better than the one we use, just watch this.


Please leave lots and lots of comments below.



Joshua Rigsby is a writer, tea-drinker, and planet 9 enthusiast based in Southern California.


  1. Peter Goodyear

    Thank you so much for writing your blog in support of the metric system. A lot of the opposition to metrication seems to be spearheaded by literary and artistic people who like the poetry and names of the old units but never need to measure or calculate with them. (Reason 8-B in your blog.) It’s refreshing to read a professional writer who has actually used the metric system and supports it.

    I’m in Australia which completed its metric conversion around the same time that America gave up, and having used both Imperial (British) and metric systems I definitely prefer the metric system.

    To America, I say: Jump in, the water’s fine, even if the depth is in metres!

  2. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

    Thanks Peter! It’s true, people get sentimentally attached to strange things sometimes. An appreciation for the past doesn’t mean we need to enshrine it in the present.

    Jump in! Yes!

  3. Wow Josh, that was some kinda’ article! I’m one of those dinosaurs who balked way back when at the ill-fated mission to metricize America. I did (do) a lot of measuring and scaled drawings, and had the WORST time trying to make sense of those teeny-weeny hash marks on tapes and rulers. “It’s twenty-five centimeters in length, Patrick…” What?

    I totally understand your “argument” in favor of a much more sensible way of measuring, weighing, etc., but for the remainder of my craftsman life, I will (of laziness or necessity) have to continue working in inches and feet and yards. Sadly, I suppose.

    “Hand me the 13 millimeter open end wrench, please.”
    “You mean the half-inch one?”
    “Yeah, that’ll do.”

    Great job, sir!

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Hey Patrick! It’s always great to hear from you!

      I actually thought about you quite a bit as I was writing this. If there’s anyone who would legitimately have the right to complain about the transition to metric it would be folks like yourself, where the minutiae of the units make a profound difference in everything you do. I think carpenters can transition too, but you certainly would have the right to grumble about it.

      Thanks for all the comments!

  4. John Steele

    Just wanted to point out that you need (mostly) metric tools to work on American cars, too. The Big Three went metric in the 70’s. There are isolated exceptions like wheels, which are inch-based worldwide.

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Thanks John! Admittedly, I know almost nothing about cars. But good to know. And all the more reason to switch!

  5. If I may play the Great Satan’s advocate anecdotally,
    I must say I now feel a little foolish for describing my world in arcane units. I guess I should’ve been teaching my children that the sky is 475 nanometers instead of that silly non-metric unit, blue.
    Speaking of children, whether you like Common Core or not math is taught in both units. You might find this absurd, but it’s actually teaching a deeper fundamental understanding of pure math. If Ye Olde English units are once and forever extinguished, students will have to go back to cubits for comparison.
    And I don’t think it’s fair to blame this country’s lagging math scores on not socially adopting the metric system. Give a little credit to our public schools system for that.
    Tangentially, have you ever noticed how willing people are to tell you that they’re no good with math? It’s amazing. An automatic excuse to get out of thinking. That’s where the term ‘No Brainer’ strikes deepest. Predatory lending? How could bankers NOT jack up interest rates when their customers are freely admitting such weakness. That sentiment carries through generationally. Parents who fear math raise children who fear math.
    Also, it seems a lot of people come to America from metric countries. Metric must not be that important to, say, millions of people.
    There are a few places where the metric system is impractical. Just a few. First off, angles. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE transcendental functions. Seriously, LOVE them. But they’re unwieldy outside math settings so we stick to the old ways. 360 degrees. Why 360? It probably comes from the Sumerian base 60 system.
    Second, in the absence of adequate measuring tools, a fractional system becomes more intuitive. What if the units aren’t represented metrically? What if your unit is a whale? An eighth is pretty close to a tenth of a whale and easier to come by fractionally. And fractions are the first steps into higher mathematics. Michelangelo carved David using fractions for scaling, not the metric system.
    Third. Time. While the second has been shoved and contorted into a standard unit, the rest of daily time would suuuuuuck if scaled up metrically. There’s been a few attempts, all effectively failed because it didn’t do anything better than the system in place. And again, standard time is riddled with Sumerian 60s. Who doesn’t say half past, or quarter till? And, yes, you can work thirds and sixths into conversation, too. It’s pretty funny.
    The U.S. dollar is divided into hundredths. Very metrically appealing. Wouldn’t it be funny if the U.S. greenback became the standard unit of worldwide exchange? What? It basically is? Hmmm. Not bad for a laughing stock.
    So I was looking at Switzerland. They haven’t, nor will they adopt the Euro. They are an island of francs in a sea of conformity. Their currency, only legal in Switzerland and Luxemburg, is the sixth most internationally traded currency. Good for them sticking to their old system, plus guess who’s NOT sweating over Greece. Oh, and Ye Olde English pound is doing rather well in the face of European pressure, too.
    Okay, I’ve read the propaganda and it’s clear that the United States of America is a pariah and inferior in every way to North Korea. After all, they use the metric system and America doesn’t. But I think it’s fair to say that neither country can figure out the metric tonnes of food North Korea needs.
    Engineering, manufacturing, military, medicine, product labeling, governmental recognition, anyone who’s had a few college science classes. For all intents and purposes the United States is a metric country. It’s only in the social sphere this country is resistant. So, the lesser question must be asked. What will it improve if this country switches socially? Will tourism increase? Will more American’s travel abroad? Will the Eifel Tower, Great Wall, or Grand Canyon become more magnificent when measured by a deferent unit? Nope.
    Now for the major question. Is metric better where it counts? Speaking as a male, if you take your most intimate measurement (typically made in early teenage years) and convert to metric, granted the new figure sounds all the more impressive, will your mate instantly experience a corresponding degree of metric pleasure? Nope. In the bed there’s only one unit that matters and nobody cares how it’s measured.
    As for hanging onto old impractical systems, I’ll bet this post was typed on a standard QWERTY keyboard layout. There are better ways. QWERTY was designed in 1873 to keep the mechanical hammers of letters often used together from jamming. Nobody’s had a problem with hammers jamming in over 100 years, but the inefficient layout is still used. I write in cursive and type in Dvorak. Suppose I berated everyone who doesn’t use a system I find superior, but is basically working fine otherwise. That wouldn’t be fun.
    Who cares who laughs as long as you’re confident in yourself. Isn’t that what we teach our children? And Americans are a very confident people.
    Personally I’m ambivalent to the change. I’m proficient in both. The metric system is a fantastic standardization of measurements, but people still like to speak Esperanto, too. Sure, our basic set of measurements is antiquated. Sure there are occasionally conversion faux pas, but really in the end, what does it hurt? Nothing. The sun will still rise, traffic will still crawl by any measurement and the vast majority of high school students and liberal arts majors will never know the difference.
    Okay, this has been fun.

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Alienissimus! Great to hear from you too!

      I knew you’d have a dissenting opinion on this topic, so I’m glad you’ve stopped by and chimed in. I wrote up a brilliant response for you the night you first posted your comment, but when I went to submit it my server timed out, and it was lost for all eternity. I will do my best to replicate those thoughts here, but if anything seems disjointed that may be why. Let me do my best to muddle through with a faint echo of that first response and we can take it from there.

      I’m certainly not advocating that we reduce all words down to a kind of mathematical/scientific Newspeak where everything is described in it its most elemental and scientific form. There is plenty of space for art and poetry and music to describe things in nonscientific terms, I think that is healthy and beneficial and good. Generally, anything that involved commerce, transportation, or governmental transactions should be in metric. I think it just makes sense.

      I don’t have an opinion about the Common Core, but I do believe that scrubbing the outdated Ye Olde English system and moving to one central unified metric system would save a lot of class time and allow us to focus on teaching our kids other, more important things. Will it fix everything? Certainly not. I give plenty of credit to the public schools for the sticky morass our education system is stuck in. But even if switching only helps a tiny percent of our total average, I still think it’s worth it to switch.

      You are right about generational math phobias.

      You are right that immigrants to the US didn’t find the switch to Ye Olde English a sufficient enough barrier to keep them out of the country. If it had, Trump would have us retrofitting all of our weights and measures to the stone age. But, if you ask anyone from another country who has used both systems which they prefer, all of them say metric. And all of them think we are ridiculous for clinging to this issue as a matter of national pride.

      It’s true, time and angles didn’t metricate well when they first tried it. No reason to mess with those.

      If you find yourself in the absence of adequate measuring tools I whole-heartedly endorse you abandoning the metric system. Also, if you need to divide your whale stock into eighths to pay an artist to recreate renaissance sculptures of naked Biblical characters. Be my guest. Not in my home, probably, but you are welcome to use your whale eighths however you wish, anywhere else. Then you can be a guest in my home after that. Once you, you know, clean up a little. Deal?

      I think your point about the US Dollar dividing into hundredths belongs in the pro-metrication column, but I may have misunderstood.

      Sure, if you are Switzerland, it’s to your advantage to remain isolated from the rest of Europe financially. What is the advantage of the United States staying isolated from the rest of the world’s weight and measurement system? There isn’t one. I’m not saying we should only do something because everyone else is doing it. I’m saying if the rest of the world is doing something and we’re not, we should at least have a good reason, and I don’t believe we do.

      North Korea is screwed. No question.

      As far as the lesser question goes, I feel that giving the American public the language to access the world of science and mathematics is important. Especially for kids, it opens the door for them to understand how the world works. I think that matters, on a fundamental, individual, level.

      As far as the greater question goes, I absolutely advocate the eradication of the metric system from the bedroom, whether that room is stocked with whale blubber and David sculptures, or otherwise.

      I remember you telling me about your Dvorak typing! I would make the switch myself, except that I’m just too lazy. I’d be all for switching. Let’s switch! Dude, if that helped me write an extra thousand words a day, it would totally be worth it. But no, alas, at the moment I am stuck in the antiquated system of qwertiness.

      I certainly didn’t intend to berate anyone in this post, only to use evocative language to draw a strong contrast between the two systems and the schools of thought that advocate for them. Good Lord, if I berated everyone who used the Ye Olde English, not only would I lose all friends, but all enemies and acquaintances too.

      Thanks as always for commenting Alienissimus! Your ideas are always welcome here.

  6. Mysti Mustigud

    This is a great website. Far out.

  7. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

    Great! Glad you like it.

  8. Mysti Mustigud

    I use it for debate.

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Happy to help.

  9. Mysti Mustigud

    Metric is awesome………I am awesome……..

  10. Sharin Smith

    I agree. I think the metric system is great too. There is only one problem with your article. You didn’t write roughly 5280 reasons.

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Thanks. I’m glad you liked it. The number of reasons is a rough estimate derived from Ye Olde English system units. Thus the disparity.

  11. Sharin Smith

    Ha ha. 🙂

  12. Milos

    Very well written article and it has some points that I have not read before. I am thinking in the recent days about a campaign that would move US people more into the metric system. Maybe something where my software development skills would be useful I do not know if I could do more than Pokemon Go did for the metrication of USA, but it is worth a try. If you have any ideas I would like to hear them.

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Thanks Milos! I have no idea what a campaign to move Americans toward the metric system would look like, but I would support it. Feel free to contact me.

  13. dan

    this was very helpful for my report thank you joshua

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Thanks Dan! Happy to help out.

  14. Ball

    Wow, what a shit article.

    We are not a base ten species. It’s actually much easier to count in base 12 with your hands as we have 12 segments total in four fingers, using our thumbs to keep track. You can count to a gross easily this way. All you did was state an obvious falsehood as true with no evidence.

    Metric sucks for cooking, construction, and many other non-scientific measuring purposes.

    We may be destined to adopt this stupid French system, but not because it’s superior for daily use.

    1. Milos

      Are you really comparing convenience of counting the segments on your fingers with convenience for scientific use? I worked in architectural field, and it is not more convenient. Unless someone is building a crib on their own there are never lengths that are divisible even in base 12. Also for planning in construction it is super simple in Europe: the most standard door height is exactly 2m, and bed height is also 2m. Width of beds and doors are in 10cm increments where in USA you need “full”, “queen”, “king”, “California king”.

    2. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      The unedited sentence reads: “We are by and large, a base-ten species (with a few notable exceptions), likely due to the number of fingers on our hands…”

      The combined populations of the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia (the only remaining non metric countries) equals 376.45 million people, which is only 5% of the 7.4 billion people on this planet.

      95% of the human species operates daily in base ten with the notable exception of time measurement. We are a base ten species. Unequivocally, provably, the human race operates in base-ten more than any other. Just because the United States is a fringe belligerent outlier, doesn’t invalidate the vast majority of the human race, or provide disproportionate weight to mathematics.

      Milos has already helpfully responded to the question of construction.

      Regarding cooking… Have you traveled abroad? Food is delicious pretty much everywhere (insert requisite joke about the British Isles here).

      Also, have you ever tried cooking with fractions? It’s a horrendous experience.

      If some reason you still need this validated scientifically, take a look at this list of Michelin starred restaurants If the metric system were somehow impossible to use for cooking you might expect the non metric countries to dominate. But alas, the United States is home to only 13 Michelin starred restaurants, a mere 11% of the 118 total. So, it seems they’re doing just fine without our clunky and outdated system.

  15. Will

    This helped my out so much on my essay!! No plagiarism though!

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Glad I could help.

  16. Eugene

    This is a great article and only confirms my reasoning for switching to metric. But in talking to other people about it I’ve heard a lot about how expensive it will be and I can’t really think of a counter argument to that. Is there one that you might have?

    1. Joshua Rigsby (Post author)

      Hi Eugene,
      Thanks for stopping by. The truth is that switching to metric will cost a lot of money. There’s no disputing that. It’s very clear, though, that as expensive and difficult as a transition may be, it will definitely cost less than choosing to stay with Ye Olde English indefinitely. As is mentioned in the post, conversion errors have cost the United States billions of dollars both in the public sector (with the Mars Oribiter), and the private sector (with thousands of company errors compounding into serious money). So, I think it’s pretty clear that despite the short term cost, in the long term a switch definitely saves us money. In addition to this, is the time wasted on educating our children, soldiers, and scientists two different systems and the conversions between them. If we get on board with the rest of the planet that’s time and money that can be spent on other things. I hope that helps!


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