Imperial system: visualisation, heat and us

In one of my blogposts, I asserted that my problem with imperial system was not the system itself, it was the people who insist it is more sensical and systematic than metric.

Some time after I published it, I found two more pro-imperial arguments.

One is about visualisation. Some believe imperial units are better because they are easier to visualise than the extra-detailed metric ones, especially regarding height. When I asserted that it was a matter of upbringing, one of them claimed to be a non-American and, despite growing metric, they still preferred imperial for the easier visualisation.

But, the more I read their arguments words per words, the more unconvinced I become. Everything they said was not even remotely tangible and objective. All they did was describing how their own mind works; they might as well retell their imaginations. While I acknowledge the validity of their anecdotes, they are not scientific evidences.

Then, there is also the Fahrenheit and the human bodies argument.

Some argue Fahrenheit makes more sense because it measures how our corporeal bodies react to different levels of heat and cold. Even if what they say is true (I never bother to fact check), it further proves the inferiority of Fahrenheit.

In case they forget, the universe does not revolve around us and human body temperature is certainly not the only thing science cares about. While the human-centrism isn’t necessarily conceited, it certainly makes the approach far from unbiased.

Listening to pro-imperial arguments makes me even more pro-metric.

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The problem with imperial system…

… Is not on the system itself. It is on the people who use it.

As a non-American who definitely uses the metric system, I genuinely don’t mind if people use the imperial one. If Americans want to preserve it for cultural reasons and for its perceived playfulness, I don’t mind it at all.

What I do mind is them insisting that imperial system is the best system.

Let’s see…

1 mile is equal to 8 furlongs, is equal to 1760 yards, is equal to 5280 feet, is equal to 63.360 inches. Compare that to their metric counterparts in which 0.001 kilometre is equal to 0.01 hectometre, is equal to 0.1 decametre, is equal to 1 metre, is equal to 10 decimetres, is equal to 100 centimetres, is equal to 1000 millimetres.

From that one paragraph alone, you can see how metric system is a base 10 measurement system in which conversion from one unit to another can be done by simply moving the decimal point; the existence of the metric staircase eases the learning process. Heck, throughout my school life as a math-hating student, metric system was one of the very few things I had no problems learning about in math classes!

The values of imperial units, on the other hand, do not form a consistent pattern and it forbids us from having an all-inclusive conversion method; we are forced to memorise one conversion method for each pair of units. I don’t know how people who struggle with math survive in America.

If anything, the name ‘imperial system’ feels like a misnomer because the word ‘system’ means a group of interconnected things…and imperial units do not naturally interconnect with each other; we have to manufacture the connections ourselves!

Okay, that’s a bit misleading.

Back in the day, most people (presumably) wouldn’t find any of the existing measurement systems unsystematic as every single one of them was unsystematic; comparing defective things with each other would not reveal their own defects.

But, nowadays, the metric system has enteredĀ the stage and the comparison reveals a juxtaposition for everyone to behold! Believing in imperial’s non-existing superiority is no longer excusable!

And no, it is not a matter of differing opinions. My argument is based on the numbers themselves and they clearly show how orderly and precise the metric system is!

The imperial worshippers either have not learned the metric system but they are arrogant enough to have strong opinions about it*… or they have learned it but their attachment to traditions clouds their judgement.

Don’t know which one’s worse.

And no, imperial does not contribute to America’s scientific triumph.

Like the rest of the world, American scientists use metric because they are also aware of its efficiency. The triumph exists not because of imperial’s mass usage, but despite of it.

Just like how the world respects America not because of the existence of Americans like Donald Trump, but despite of it. The world respects America because of Americans who are the exact opposites of him!

 

*Admittedly, I can get too opinionated in topics I know little about. But, I am confident that’s not case regarding ‘metric vs imperial’ because I have studied both.

I attended one international school and my British math textbook used imperial units as Brits still use both systems. After I started becoming an internet addict, I used a chunk of my spare time studying imperial units as well.

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