Why the heck does America still use outdated measurement and date units?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by garirry, May 7, 2016.

  1. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I was thinking the same thing! 2 Liters is rather large to have in the front cup holder... but this is America so why the heck not!! HA
  2. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    If you want a 2-liter cup holder in your car, then IMHO you've got a problem. And that problem isn't the lack of a 2-liter cup holder.
  3. rafark macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2017
    A trillion?
  4. Timemaster macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2019
    Your own quote honestly proves why the system is not changing. It is very difficult to change local customs and what people are used to using.
    For a lot of things I prefer metric for smaller tools just because it is easier for me to think of them that way but reality is I grew up in USA with the imperical system so that is what I know the best.I know roughly the size of 1 inch, 1 foot ect. I think in miles and MPG. It would not be hard to think of KM/L but it would take some time to adjust.

    For example why does England drive on the left side of the road or in the US why is it on the right?
    The answer for england is most people are right handed and you wanted your sword in the middle near your combat so it was customary from back then to travel on the left side of the road.
    USA on the other hand more or less started with wagons and again because most people are right handed they sat on the left side of the wagon so the whip would land closer to the middle. As such when passing someone else oncoming you wanted them to be on your left side to make sure you hand enough clearance so people traveled on the right side of the road.
    Those custom never broke even now days so they are so locked in that it is near impossible to change.
  5. MrRabuf macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2019
    I used to want us over here to switch to the metric system until I visited the UK and started making friends with folks over that way. It's been decades since they switched and people still routinely use both systems of units and it seems completely illogical as to when one system is used vs the other. They even use both systems in the same sentence and when talking about very similar things.

    Sure, our system is completely idiotic but it's better than having to use two different systems at the same time on a daily basis for decades to come which is exactly what would happen if the US switched.
  6. Aeolius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2002
    If it's pronounced kil-OHM-uh-ters, then why isn't it cen-TIM-eh-ters? :D
  7. AlaskaMoose, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019

    AlaskaMoose macrumors 68000

    Apr 26, 2008
    I was born overseas (in a non-US territory) where the metric system was used, but a few months after I arrived to the US I adapted and embraced this measuring system. Maybe it is the rest of you who are too useless to embrace our measuring standards, something that I can understand. See...why should we get inline like a bunch of sheep and follow your measuring system just because you want us to? Should we also speak English with an AU accent, or maybe an English accent like prince Charles'?
  8. jtara, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019

    jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Dunno if any mentioned this already (not gonna go through 20 pages!) but Fahrenheit actually makes a lot more sense than Celsius for weather reports.

    0 is damn cold.
    100 is sweltering hot.

    And it's the apx. range of outdoor temperatures in the northeastern U.S. and central Europe.

    Celsius makes a lot more sense for science/physics/engineering. But Celsius (or Kelvin, as appropriate) IS what is used in the U.S. for science/physics/engineering.

    For farmers, or anyone wanting to know if they should wear a jacket when they leave the house - Fahrenheit is king!

    The Celsius scale is too compressed in the normal range of weather.

    100 was chosen as the best estimate (in 1724) of the temperature of the human body.

    It is a practical scale for everybody human life.

    You want a good temperature scale for science? You want Kelvin. Good luck getting anybody to understand when to wear a jacket.
  9. AlaskaMoose macrumors 68000

    Apr 26, 2008
    It seems that you have a problem :)

    in other words, "have a dictator" telling us what and how to do it.

    Again, that sounds like a personal problem. We Americans got used to the system we have always had, as much as you with your own system. Are we complaining about your "system"?

    We don't have a problem with the supposedly awkward date format (whatever that means). It is not broken other than in your mind; "why fix it"?

    In fact, our system is so good that we have thousands of legal and illegal immigrants crashing our borders :)
  10. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    The USA does use the metric system, just that people don't know it..... The US Customary System units folks use in daily life are defined in metric terms.
  11. AlaskaMoose macrumors 68000

    Apr 26, 2008
    In reality 0-degree celsius is quite warm in the interior of Alaska where it sometimes drops to -65 degrees F. :)
  12. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I grew up with my parents talking in Fahrenheit (they still do) but learnt Celsius.
    I have no problem knowing when to take a jacket in either scale, but unless it’s my parents talking, it’s always degrees C that works for me.
    --- Post Merged, May 16, 2019 ---
    Switching sides you drive on is never going to happen. It would cold billions.
    I recall reading about an African state that did that. But they didn’t have the money to replace buses etc. So everyone gets on and off in the middle of the road.
  13. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Because SI units are also metric. Because standardisation with the other 6+ billion people in the rest of the world.

    It's not MY measuring system. Its one developed using logic that is base-10 so that it works conveniently.

    Like i said in the first post i made here.... people who don't switch to metric just like doing things the hard way.

    Now... personally, i don't care if "you" use metric or not. It's a good filter.
  14. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    what's an example of something you personally do using Metric that's hard to do using Imperial?
  15. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Well, you can rightfully make a standardization with other people argument, but from an individual user end perspective, it’s not really harder is it?
  16. chown33, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019

    chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

    Oddly enough, that was around the same time that the metric system was first being suggested for international trade.

    And I see that Monday, May 20th will be when the new SI base units come into effect.
  17. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    It's not really a matter of easier or more difficult. Sure, base-10 numbers are easier to manipulate. You could say manipulating distances and quantities in Imperial teaches better memory and math skills. ;) How many feet in a mile? Ounces in a gallon? What is 110 inches plus 83 inches in feet and inches? But once you acquire the skill and knowledge, no big deal, right? Ask any carpenter in the U.S.!

    Conversion from one to the other (regardless of the direction) is a matter of adaptation - just more proportions/equivalencies to learn. The speed limit signs may change (25 mph vs. 40 kph), but we don't need a speedometer to know when we're driving faster than the prevailing traffic. Estimating the cost of a full tank of gasoline that's priced in liters rather than gallons (multiply by 4, round-down a bit)... It wouldn't take all that long to adapt; we managed to learn this quickly as kids, why not again? But then, as a kid, I used Imperial measures in the kitchen and metric for my darkroom chemicals. In both cases, it was a matter of following the "recipes."

    The real benefits of standardization are found in industrial efficiencies and Internationalization. Any good Capitalist should appreciate the first. When it comes to the second... there's a lot of emotion. Hence, the length of this thread.
  18. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Yes there certainly is a lot of inches.. I mean centimetres...sorry hands written in this thread!
  19. MisterSavage macrumors 6502a


    Nov 10, 2018
    Wow, strong bump. The last post in this thread was previously 06052016!
  20. Mousse macrumors 68010


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Like any pragmatic people, we use what works. We use empirical units because it works. We also use metrics, because it works. We use other methods of odd methods of measurements because they work. We gauge natural disasters in terms of Waffle Houseso_O, because it works.:cool: Why did the Finns of use poronkusema as a unit of distance in the past? Because it worked.
  21. flat five, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019

    flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    i agree standardization has many (many!) benefits and really, no negatives that i can think of.

    i guess my problem with the way most people seem to see it is... as if Metric is a great system to be standardized.. yes, it has some great functionality designed into it such as all the various subsets are based off each other or interchangeable without conversion factors.. (a liter of water is 10x10x10cm and weighs a kilogram... etc)

    but the math doesn’t work as well as it could due to the decimal fetish.. and the (basically) arbitrary length of the very root measurement of Metric ended up being bad luck in size.. as far as interacting with the system as humans and our general scales of things, the meter is either too big or too small (it’s too big imo)... the mm is either too small or too big..

    while imperial fails miserably at switching between units.. and while in many cases we tend to resort to writing fractions because we’re using different bases but expressing them with decimal (metric users do this too and think nothing of it.. with clocks and calendars)..

    ..the math is simpler and has better chances of a division ending up as a mark on the scale.. (like- a lot of divisions with metric end up with no positions on the scale for doing common divisions.. unless you’re dividing in half or fifths.. 8.125mm? cool but how do you mark it?.. 8.0625”? ok, there’s a mark for it..

    also, imperial has some good examples of the scales matching our human_ness..

    foot, inch, F°, cup etc.. these are sizes that better fit our physical and spatial dimensions..

    so, (imho)... a standardized/worldwide system would be awesome.. so let’s start working on one.. because the optimal system doesn’t exist right now.

    are you sure about that?

    divide a centimeter into 3rds.. or quarters..

    then do that with a foot.

    ..just for one example
  22. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Yeah, 1/3 of a foot is 4 inches. You chose very conveniently. What about 1/5 of a foot (or a yard)? That's a proportion that happens to work beautifully in metric. We can pick and choose, and find both winners and losers in both systems.

    Let's make this closer to equivalent... inches vs. centimeters (although at 2.54 cm to the inch, still not square on).

    Divide an inch into 3rds. Whether inch or centimeter, you'll need to do some rounding on a typical ruler. 5/16-inch is under (.3125). If that stick is more finely ruled, 11/32-inch is over (0.3475), 21/64-inch (0.328125) is about as close as you'll get. Proportionally, 3 mm is not quite as close to .333 cm as any of those others. But to be fair, 1/3-inch = 8.4666... mm - close enough to interpolate 8.5 mm and be very near the mark.

    The thing is, 1/3 is problematic in either system, outside 1/3 of a yard and 1/3 of a foot. I don't ever recall seeing a ruler marked with 1/3, 1/9, and 1/27 of a foot or inch. We see 1/3 on kitchen measuring cups, and just about nowhere else.

    Yet, how many ounces in 1/3 cup? For that matter, How many ounces in a fifth of bourbon (hint... that's supposed to be 1/5th of a gallon, and a gallon is 128 ounces... so it ain't a round number)?

    Kitchen recipes often deal in ratios, even though recipes intended for home cooks rarely draw the connection. Two parts white flour plus one part rye flour, let's say. 2:1 ratios of that sort lead to marking measuring cups into thirds. 3:1 is another favorite among cooks - 1 teaspoon (0.5 oz) of salt plus 1 tablespoon (1.5 oz) of baking powder... and so it goes. Why do they call it pound cake? one pound each of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. Any pound cake recipe that uses measures of volume rather than weight requires some real adaptation.

    The truth is, quantities in most home recipes are rounded to the nearest convenient common measure. The optimal flavor/texture might actually be found somewhere in the gaps. You won't find many home recipes that call for 5 ounces of anything, because not every one-cup measure is marked in one-ounce increments - some are only marked in quarter-cups, others not at all. That's part of the secret of "industrial-size" recipes. The larger the quantities, the easier it is to measure-out the perfect proportions.

    There are lots of custom-purpose measuring devices. In the U.S., carpenter's tape measures have a prominent mark every 16 inches, as that's the standard spacing between wall studs (and floor joists).

    I have a ruler marked in picas, dating back to the days of "real" typesetting (1 pica = 1/6-inch, 12 points = 1 pica). That would come in handy for that 1/3-inch example (above). All you need to know is two picas = 1/3-inch.

    We're an inventive, tool-making species, and we fashion our tools to suit the job.
  23. mrex macrumors 68040


    Jul 16, 2014
    because it was from 2016, it is better to do another thread from the same topic rather than using the old thread?

    back to the topic - no metric? then talk to my it knows inches very well...
  24. Falhófnir macrumors 68040


    Aug 19, 2017
    Because they're still perfectly functional (in some ways superior) and it would be a vast expense to change? In Britain we're taught both metric and imperial units with just about equal weight, and I think it's fair to say there is literally nothing inherently better about metric outside a few arcane scientific applications.
  25. Joe h macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2017
    Simple as this, metric can only be conveniently divided by 2, 5, and 10. Imperial can be quickly divided by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 12. When working in construction or cooking, you don’t have time to pull out a calculator.

    I also agree Celsius needs at least 3 times the units. 0 to 37 is just too small of a range.

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