Americans, what's so great about the Imperial System?

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Cecilo:
I really don't know what you are all talking about. Most the schools I visited on the East Coast of the US were teaching Both Metric and Imperial. Maybe you just want the change to come quicker, I don't really know, but the change is coming, slowly but surely.

Exactly. We know both.

I do think the metric system is better. I've often wondered this myself.

But what you've got to understand is that it's like a distinct language. If you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that English was superior to Spanish, do you think Spain would try and phase out their native language?

Instead, those of us with any mind to do so just learn both systems. It's not like it's hard. Once you know the Imperial System then the Metric System is a piece of cake. ("What? They use units of ten? Dammit... why didn't we think of that...?")

Ryotknife:
Snip

Setting aside that NASA has actually been forging ahead with the change to SI units as outlined in the source you included. Fact of the matter is, it sucked for everyone. You can't honestly tell me that the UK was just completely stoked on having to change a system of units they helped set up a long-ass time ago, but they've gone ahead and made the change and so has just about everybody else.

I understand that it needs to be done gradually and carefully, but I don't lend much creedance to "it would be difficult" or "it would be expensive" when most of the population of earth was able to do it without breaking a sweat. And even if a few countries out of fear for their pride didn't report some kind of massive downturn in their economy as a result of making the change, what difference? The US will not suffer nearly as much as any other poorer countries might, and even if they do all it would mean is that its their turn because everybody else felt the same thing when the change happened.

EvilRoy:

Ryotknife:
Snip

Setting aside that NASA has actually been forging ahead with the change to SI units as outlined in the source you included. Fact of the matter is, it sucked for everyone. You can't honestly tell me that the UK was just completely stoked on having to change a system of units they helped set up a long-ass time ago, but they've gone ahead and made the change and so has just about everybody else.

I understand that it needs to be done gradually and carefully, but I don't lend much creedance to "it would be difficult" or "it would be expensive" when most of the population of earth was able to do it without breaking a sweat. And even if a few countries out of fear for their pride didn't report some kind of massive downturn in their economy as a result of making the change, what difference? The US will not suffer nearly as much as any other poorer countries might, and even if they do all it would mean is that its their turn because everybody else felt the same thing when the change happened.

The UK still uses miles for long distances so we dont have have to change roadsigns or car speedos. So in that situation no cost is required

Shops in the UK still measure produce in either kilograms or pounds. We tend to have a healthy mixture for general usage, although where it matters in science and engineering we tend to use metric and we are taught SI units at school

There really isnt an excuse

shootthebandit:
car speedos.

Every car I've seen has both mph and kph displayed on the speedometer. So changing the signs wouldn't be much of a problem.

Maze1125:

shootthebandit:
car speedos.

Every car I've seen has both mph and kph displayed on the speedometer. So changing the signs wouldn't be much of a problem.

They have both but the mph display is more prominent than the km/h one

From here in Canada, I can say that imperial does have its place. We're mostly metric here but we still measure people in feet, weigh ourselves in pounds, and measure our wangs in inches.

On that last point, I know the number is bigger with centimetres, but we just acknowledge centimetres as tiny little things, so the number doesn't matter so much :)

I've always thought that the imperial system (much like the electoral college and the second amendment) is just a hole we've dug our selves into where it's easier to keep digging than to go to the trouble of climbing out.

Americans grew up using imperial and don't care enough to change. We're too busy obsessing over the next generation of reality shows.

Being an American, I think we should switch. Imperial is cumbersome to the point where even the folks who use it don't understand it. I bet 90% of Americans don't know how many cups are in a gallon, or how many inches in a yard. Everything is a weird conversion. *So* much easier simply to add zeros.

The only defense for the imperial system I can make is Fahrenheit. It spans a much larger area of measurement than Celsius making normal every day use much less complex as you don't dive into decimal points. For example it is currently 70F and will be 50F tonight. In Celsius that would be 21C high and 7.22 (repeating) low.

Every other part of it is just a major pain in the ass. I would much rather have metric its easier. Perhaps international companies will stop making thing half metric half imperial and end up with parts that don't fit together.

Zack Alklazaris:
The only defense for the imperial system I can make is Fahrenheit. It spans a much larger area of measurement than Celsius making normal every day use much less complex as you don't dive into decimal points. For example it is currently 70F and will be 50F tonight. In Celsius that would be 21C high and 7.22 (repeating) low.

FYI, 50°F is 10°C, not 7.22°C.

So your argument is that a range of 20 degrees (70-50) in the Fahrenheit system would shrink down to 11 degree range (21-10) in the Celsius scale? I ask, do you really need those extra 9 degrees? When it comes to needing to know how you should dress outside, there's not that much of a difference between a 65°F weather and a 63°F weather. Only someone conducting a sensitive experiment that requires hyper accurate results are gonna care about fractions of a degree. For the rest of us yahoos, living out our days, we only need to know that 100°C is when water boils, 60°C is how we want our coffee to be, 40°C is how you want your bathwater, 20°C is room temperature, 10°C is pretty nippy and 0°C is when water freezes. Oh, and 37°C is your optimum body temperature. Go over that and you're running a fever.

Btw. It's a terribly inaccurate thing to do, but if you need to do a speedy conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius, I subtract 32 from the number and then divide by 2. It gives you a rough estimate that becomes more inaccurate the further away you get from 0°C. It's accurate enough if you want to know the temperature outside but you shouldn't use this method to convert baking temperature.

Subtracting 32 and then divide by 1.8 nets you a more accurate result but the proper formula is (°F - 32) x 5/9 = °C

I'm american, and I prefer the metric system. Main reason we're still on imperial is likely just inertia plus the fact that our government can't get anything done that isn't military-related.

I don't know what the bitching is about, since we tend to use both. Both have uses in their respective areas, and as such both are relevant over here. The Public school system is used to teach students both, and it works well for the most part.

This whole thread smells a bit like an attempt to find something to mock the US for, and if so, the OP should be ashamed.

Amaror:
First of all. I know this i probably going to be a pretty difficult discussion. Everyone here has grown up with one or the other measurement system, so nobody can be really objective about this.

Ok, then let's get this started. I read up a bit on the Imperial System and i just can't find any great benefits to it.
Let's start with the obvious advantage of the metric system, as that it is not only the international standard, but also the System of SCIENCE (Which kinda is an instant win right there).
It's easy to calculate with and is just perfect for Mathmatics, Physics and so on.
I heard from some people that the imperial system is easier to use in day to day life, but i can't see why.
It's obviously better in day to day life, if you have grown up with it and used it your entire life.
But if we look at both systems and how we would use them in day to day life, i still think the metric system to be far superiour.
First of all, you just have to learn 3 units of measurement. Meter, gramm and litre. Any larger or smaller units you might need, you just use the appropriate word before it. kilo for a thousand, mega for a million and so on.
In the imperial system you got yards, feet, miles, pinch, pounds, tons and so on, and so on.
It's just way more to memorize, for practically no benefit in day to day life.

You realize that NO ONE is sitting around saying that the imperial system is "better", right?

It's just ingrained in our daily lives and there are uses for both.

Also, the majority of Americans know BOTH... so maybe everyone else should just learn both.

The reason it started in the first place is because 12 is a better number than 10 for most purposes. It's WAY easier to count by 10's than by 12's, but 12 is divisible by 4 numbers. That's why our clocks are in 12's.

Product Placement:

Zack Alklazaris:
The only defense for the imperial system I can make is Fahrenheit. It spans a much larger area of measurement than Celsius making normal every day use much less complex as you don't dive into decimal points. For example it is currently 70F and will be 50F tonight. In Celsius that would be 21C high and 7.22 (repeating) low.

FYI, 50°F is 10°C, not 7.22°C.

So your argument is that a range of 20 degrees (70-50) in the Fahrenheit system would shrink down to 11 degree range (21-10) in the Celsius scale? I ask, do you really need those extra 9 degrees?

Not really, I just wanted to hope that my country kept the imperial system for more than just American pride.

Umm...nothing really. I imagine the reason the US is still using the imperial system is that it has been using it for so long that it's easier to just keep the system rather than making the switch over to the metric system. When I was in middle school we were taught both the imperial and metric system. In high school the imperial system showed up less than the metric system, and in college I saw no trace of the imperial system in my studies.

DANGER- MUST SILENCE:
There is one and only one advantage: Degrees F constitutes a larger range of numbers than degrees C. So in the very specific instance of being in a climate-controlled room with a digital thermostat and the goal of maximizing the comfort level of the room, assuming typical designs which work in whole numbers, degrees F gives more selectable data points and therefore allows more fine-tuning of the temperature. Now that I'm in a country where everything is Celcius I'm constantly flipping my airconditioner between 23 and 24 degrees C (73.4 and 75.2 degrees F) because all I want is 74 degrees.

Of course, this could be solved by any vaguely competent engineer who knows how to use decimals, so really the only advantage of the Imperial system is it provides a way for Americans to pretend we are better than everyone else by how we're willing to inconvenience ourselves.

The vast majority of adjustable thermostats in workplaces and such do nothing. They're there to make you feel better.

And I have a heater right next to me that's technically adjustable to a practically infinite amount of decimals. You just turn the switch.

moseythepirate:
Something you imperial-bashers need to understand is that the imperial system is not arbitrary.

Where the metric system was designed to be easy to make calculations with in a base 10 numeral system, imperial measures were designed to reflect common use and be easy to estimate without precision measurements...mostly because many of them were designed thousands of years ago, before we had precision instruments. The foot, for instance, has probably been used for as long as people have had feet.

As for temperature, whereas Centigrade was calibrated to the freezing and boiling points of water, Fahrenheit was calibrated to the freezing point of water and average human body heat. In other words, the temperature is calibrated to 2 useful temperatures, making is a handy estimate of comfortable temperature range.

It isn't like you can't do science in Imperial units. It's just that the you need conversion coefficients, which are annoying, but not difficult. Besides, American scientists and engineers work in metric anyway. It's just the common folk that use imperial, so why worry?

Agreed. I am not sure why the question was even asked of this audience, like we have a choice? I know it's fun to ask us silly Americans, why we do things so much different than everyone else. Bah.. Many years ago, it probably was easier and more relative. Today, it's because it's an inherent system. I could ask, why do you speak a certain language when this language is so much better. Why do you use X currency, when Y is so much better? Apple vs. Windows... Does it really effect anyone? At the end of the day, I would think America would like to switch, it's just not a top priority right now.

the one thing I find annoying is the use of grams. having such a gap between grams and kilograms in a popular setting (the tens and hundreds of grams being ignored) makes it difficult to gauge the weight of everything inbetween when the unit being used goes up to a thousand before being shifted, and not knowing that a thousand units equals roughly 2.2 pounds meant that anything inbetween confused the hell out of me as a child

I find it ironic that a nation that was founded obstinately to break apart from the old world system retains its methods of measurement when they've moved on. It's just the way things are down there I guess.

*enjoys Canada*

Nothing is great about the Imperial system. It's stupid.

Use_Imagination_here:

DANGER- MUST SILENCE:
There is one and only one advantage: Degrees F constitutes a larger range of numbers than degrees C. So in the very specific instance of being in a climate-controlled room with a digital thermostat and the goal of maximizing the comfort level of the room, assuming typical designs which work in whole numbers, degrees F gives more selectable data points and therefore allows more fine-tuning of the temperature. Now that I'm in a country where everything is Celcius I'm constantly flipping my airconditioner between 23 and 24 degrees C (73.4 and 75.2 degrees F) because all I want is 74 degrees.

Of course, this could be solved by any vaguely competent engineer who knows how to use decimals, so really the only advantage of the Imperial system is it provides a way for Americans to pretend we are better than everyone else by how we're willing to inconvenience ourselves.

The vast majority of adjustable thermostats in workplaces and such do nothing. They're there to make you feel better.

I used to work in a company that makes thermostats and heating control systems. Trust me, I know how they work.

And while there may be some systems in large-building applications where there are limits placed on the thermostat (i.e., you can turn it down to 0 or up to 1000, but it starts ignoring your input outside of a predefined range), within normal habitation ranges thermostats do indeed "do something". I had the remote control for one in my hand when I made that post. Bully for you if you've got yourself a dial, but mine was digital.

Why do some nations drive on the left side of the road? Weird custom that no longer makes sense. I suspect, the metric system will be dropped once enough of the people clinging to it expire.

My Girlfriend is moving in with me from the US (moving to Canada, and I told her that sometimes we get cold snaps (that last a day or two) where it can sometimes get down to -30-40C.

She asked me what that was in Fahrenheit, and I said "Minus 40 Celsius is Minus 40 in Fahrenheit".

All I got back from here "You gotta be sh--ing me."

I just said "Bring a good Jacking" and winked at her.

The fact that we use it.
Seriously, that is the only reason we use it. Because we do. It's too late to change. It would cost a lot of money and have no benefit.

Someone mentioned fahrenheit as being better because it has a more precise range. I can get behind that, seeing as kilometers are more precise than miles.

Moderated:
The fact that we use it.
Seriously, that is the only reason we use it. Because we do. It's too late to change. It would cost a lot of money and have no benefit.

The benefit would be to teach people a more efficient system as well as being able to relate to almost all other countries in the world.

For a country that celebrates being independant, you sure cling to some old world European crap...

It's not great, it's just there's not that great a reason to change it. Sure, the metric system is better, but it would cost a lot and take a lot of time to change everything.

Smilomaniac:

The benefit would be to teach people a more efficient system as well as being able to relate to almost all other countries in the world.

So, for the millions, maybe billions of dollars we are spending to convert, the benefit is it's easier to do math? You realize scientists and such already use the metric system, and thus the only difference would be home normal people do measurements?

ungothicdove:
I'm down for switching. Except for distances. I'm driving a hundred miles dammit, not 160 km. And maybe height too because saying I'm 5'8" sounds better than 1.7018 meters.

No one actually says meters. That part is assumed. You would just say "I'm one-seventy." Doesn't sound so bad, right?

I live in the UK. I was taught the metric system. My parents use the Imperial system.

I bounce between the two although I can recognise feet and inches far easier than centimetres or metres.

Then again this country makes no sense. We still have MPH speed limit signs and all our destination boards give distance in miles. It's just as well; I can't get my head around kilometres.

clayschuldt:
Why do some nations drive on the left side of the road? Weird custom that no longer makes sense. I suspect, the metric system will be dropped once enough of the people clinging to it expire.

Why does it make no sense? If the car is specifically designed for driving on the left then I don't see how it makes any difference.

If anything driving on the right is the more out of place method. We do everything left to right; it's the most logical and natural movement. Unless you're left handed maybe. We read and write left to right for example.

I'm not American but I'm gonna respond to this because I am in a weird place when it comes to these systems. We were converting from Imperial to metric in the first few years i went to school. In normal conversation I see distance in meters, but refer to my height in feet. Temperate for weather I read out in Celsius but body temperature I see in F. I'm even more badly stuck in the middle as I am also a cook by trade. I cannot cook using metric measurements. No kitchen I have ever worked in used metric measurements and I refuse to learn how until I am forced to.

So in cooking it's all F, ounces, cups, pounds, metric style decimal points of ounces (figure that one out guys). Metric, just doesn't feel organic enough for me to cook with. But in all other practical ways I consider it the superior system.

Nothing, really. It's an odd system without consistent conversion factors. I much prefer the Metric's use of ten for everything. Celsius, I could take or leave--it seems that the Farenheit scale having more precision if you're just using integer values might be better for reporting temperatures to a general populace, but it's really not a significant effect.

I just use the imperial system because it's what I grew up using--even though all throughout school we learned and used metric, culturally I grew up in the imperial system, and so I'm always thinking about how many miles/pounds/etc rather than kilometers/kilograms/etc (yes, I know pounds are technically a unit of force, but day-to-day, they're used like a unit of mass). It's not a better system or anything--it's probably worse, purely on the basis of weird conversion factors (like inches to feet and so on)--but it's just what I've been using forever, so it's what I'm comfortable with.

Moderated:

Smilomaniac:

The benefit would be to teach people a more efficient system as well as being able to relate to almost all other countries in the world.

So, for the millions, maybe billions of dollars we are spending to convert

As long as you keep it at home, some of your businesses could make some real profits, actually. That money wouldn't be going down a black hole. Not saying you should use this as an economic incentive, but being smart about it can be good for your economy if you ever get to the point where you make the change.

We'll switch to metric when the British stop using "pint" for drinks, "miles" for distance, and "stone" for weight. Also, when the British stop driving on the left, dismantle the monarchy, use the rhotic R, start playing by gridiron rules instead of association, and admit that Morris dancing is really goddamned silly.

Until then, we'll stick to the ingrained cultural norm and practice that is difficult to break out of when it requires changing the fundamental mindset and tradition of an entire population, especially when that population is over 300 million people and spans 3.8 million square miles or 9.8 million square kilometers or 2.4 billion acres or 98,000 tetrads or 1.4 billion manzana, etc., etc.

Not to mention the economic cost of having to replace every road sign, every mile marker, every map, every scale, every measuring stick, and every copy of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", which includes the unfortunately obsolete line, "Miles to go before I sleep."

Yes, the crude Imperial system is the default for this side of the pond, but it's no big deal, because every US scientist and technician is capable of measuring in both SI and Imperial and converting between the two, having dealt with it their entire lives. And we all have calculators. And computers. So .... maybe it's not really that important? Unless you're a tourist in the US and then it's mildly annoying?

Or unless you're just practicing casual cultural chauvinism, and you don't really care about the fairly simple conversion of basic measurements and just want to use this as a platform to further push the impression that Americans are all big ol' dumbheads compared to your massive European intellect - the same reason why Brits always complain about the term "soccer" and about "Americanisms" seeping into their pure English speech (ironic as many of the common "Americanisms" that Brits harp on about are actually British in origin - "soccer" is one of them).

If it's really that big an inconvenience, you can just get a calculator. They're quite affordable, you know - at least here in the Stone Age wasteland that is America. And even over there, a decent one should cost more than 15 Euros. Or, if you use one of those barbaric, backwards, non-international currencies, it's about 12 pounds sterling.


//will preempt any response of "gridiron isn't football, it's hand-egg hurr hurr" by pointing out that the game of cricket doesn't at all resemble an omnivorous insect known for its unique stridulatory organs located in each wing

Having not read the first post and not knowing what the OP is actually getting at:

Nothing. Nothing is great about the Imperial system. Though all of our measurements have been done in the Imperial system for so long that it would be chaos to change it. Plus I'm sure we'd get all sorts of angry rednecks vomiting nonsense about Communism if we tried it.

Nothing. It's a bad habit that we're too slow to correct. It isn't even used in scientific applications, but it's still used in engineering (if you hate converting units from English to metric and back again, never study engineering). I'm sure that eventually the US will swap out to metric in an official capacity, but a lot of people will still use feet, miles, gallons etc as shorthand since it's what people know.

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