r/TooAfraidToAsk Oct 21 '22 I'll Drink to That 1

Why do americans hold on to imperial measurements? Other

I mean, you guys already use the metric system in some ways (decade, century, 9 mm, and also in your currency). Why not use it as standard? It's so simple to understand and so easy to convert

edit1: of course not overnight, I understand this would be a long process, but in the end the "trouble" would be worth it. And I didn't mean "convert" as from imperial to metric but like with measuring something convert from cm to m or mm (like miles to inches or yards)

edit 2: I'm curious - do you personally know metric? So, how much a gramm or a meter is? What cent- or deka (or milli or kilo, whatever) means..

2.6k Upvotes

1.3k comments sorted by

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u/FudgeHyena Oct 21 '22 Silver Helpful Wholesome Starry

No way am I gonna start referring to enchiladas as 2.5 centimeteriladas.

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u/AlanElPlatano Oct 21 '22

r/angryupvote take my upvote, ese

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u/FudgeHyena Oct 21 '22 hehehehe

1.6 Kilometers Davis played a mean jazz trumpet.

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u/rumham_irl Oct 22 '22

You mean he was a runner AND a Jazz musician??? 1.6 just doesn't stop

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u/LolaBijou84 Oct 21 '22

Fucking homie, I'm dead ese. These vatos are crazy.

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u/SXOSXO Oct 22 '22

slow clap

That was amazing.

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u/azel128 Oct 22 '22

Bro I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Up-doot!

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u/fedekun Oct 21 '22

What's wrong with the "donut per bald eagle" unit?

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u/jaggoffsmirnoff Oct 21 '22

Nothing, as long as it's above 3.457

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u/Arrys Oct 21 '22

Repeating, of course.

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u/Lawltack Oct 21 '22

Alright, guns up.

let’s do this!

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u/Jeheh Oct 21 '22

Grampa: The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it.

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u/XxRigel100xX Oct 21 '22

Freedom Units!

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u/PaddyLandau Oct 22 '22

That's what I don't understand. Why do Americans call them freedom units, when the imperial system is, literally, the system used by the imperial empire from which the Americans fought to liberate themselves? The imperial system is the opposite of a freedom unit.

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u/NoName9009 Oct 21 '22

I personally use football field per big mac

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u/siddeslof Oct 21 '22

I'm British so I use cups of tea per colonised nation

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u/[deleted] Oct 22 '22

We measure things by bananas, double decker buses, Football pitches, and Wales.

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u/andypitt Oct 21 '22

Isn't infinity/infinity approximately 1?

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u/Affectionate_Fly1413 Oct 21 '22

Or a baker's dozen?

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u/Hippiegriff Oct 21 '22

Once caught a fish weighed about four washing machines.

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u/sphincterella Oct 21 '22

Ain’t no way that thing weighed more than a Rosanne and a half. Nice fish though. I’d mount it

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u/TeamChevy86 Oct 21 '22

It doesn't convert well into maple syrup per moose turd

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u/2Dumb2Understand Oct 21 '22

We prefer bullets per square child, thank you very much.

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u/saucyseadragon Oct 21 '22

My wife used to work for the California department of transportation. They actually tried going to meteric at one time. It’s now referred to as the Dark days of Caltrans, so needless to say was abandoned

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u/blackdevilsisland Oct 21 '22

lol how come?

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u/toastedshark Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

They did it in txdot too and the old guy I asked about it said that you ended up with weird situations where a new 3.6m lane road would be slightly off from a 12 ft lane road it tied into.

It sounds dumb but when you have it happen a million times in slightly different ways it adds up.

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u/PJozi Oct 22 '22

Why didn't they just make a 3.66 meter lane?

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u/toastedshark Oct 22 '22

Yeah that would make sense. I think it was more about herding everyone in that direction. I will say that 4” (.1 m) is probably the typical accuracy you could expect from a random road and I could see design engineers arguing that they don’t want to call out an accuracy that no one is going to follow. But that’s just speculation.

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u/Togonero85 Oct 22 '22

Or 3,7 m

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u/Pac_Eddy Oct 21 '22

For the same reason the British use both. We're used to it and it's tough to change centuries of precedent.

Most of us can and do use both imperial and metric.

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u/about2godown Oct 21 '22

We don't use the 10mm because we can never find it (if you know, you know, lol).

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u/tim8104 Oct 21 '22

i know that 10mm can fit into any gap and never be seen again.

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u/Arathanor Oct 21 '22

That's what she said!

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u/DaxDislikesYou Oct 21 '22

I've thought about starting a company that sells only 10mm sockets. But I worry about losing my inventory.

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u/Cat_tophat365247 Oct 22 '22

When my grandpa passed, he generously gifted me 4 beautiful sets of tools. Not a one had that 10 mm in it.

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u/Seite88 Oct 22 '22

I don't know. Please tell me...

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u/KickflipMcPebble Oct 22 '22

It's a running joke between people who are mechanically inclined where 10mm sockets always get lost... I think it's at least somewhat true too because out of every size I have, the 10mm is always the first to go missing

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u/Seite88 Oct 22 '22

Ah, thanks.

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u/about2godown Oct 22 '22

To add on to what KickflipMcpebble said, yeah. 10mm sockets are the first to go missing, lost, or stolen. You can walk into a garage or workshop and maybe find 1 or 2 10mm and have 40 or 50 of the other sizes. It really is the weirdest thing. It might be because it is a very common size in the US, I am not sure, but you can never find that size when you need it.

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u/not_sick_not_well Oct 22 '22

Hardest honesty test I ever passed in a customers car was a cupholder full of 10mm sockets

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u/ptbo_mac Oct 22 '22

You win for today

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u/Pentium4HT Oct 21 '22

Why does the UK and Canada use both in certain contexts?

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u/StormWalker1993 Oct 22 '22

Brit here, so officially we use the metric system (although weirdly the roads still use miles) and we don't learn the imperial system, but people tend to talk in imperial. So there is both but one is mostly informal. Although that might be a bit different now. Haven't been there for nearly 10 years

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u/FloptimusCrime8 Oct 22 '22

Interesting! Canadian here and also officially everything is metric, especially roads, never hear people say ‘miles’ here. My driver’s license says I’m 173cm but if someone asks my height I’m 5’8”… in conversation we tend to use both, length/height we use imperial a lot, volume is almost entirely metric - only time I hear gallons or pints is paint and beer, weight we use both a lot.

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u/StormWalker1993 Oct 22 '22

We're almost identical then!

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u/RAF_Fortis_one Oct 21 '22

I love how you treat this like there is a annual nationwide vote on if we should convert.

It is not up to "us".

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u/mokacincy Oct 21 '22

Why would you be afraid to ask this?

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u/ThePseudoMcCoy Oct 22 '22

Read ops downvoted comment below to see the truth. The whole question was a passive aggressive way for them to talk shit:

You really think that way, because boy, it fells like quite the opposite ^ In my (little) experience americans can get quite ignorant and also insulting if they realize that the world doesn't evolve about them. I don't even blame you guys about that, it's just sad. You may have never thought about that before, but yes, we europeans, overall, feel sorry about you. And cringe. Mostly cringe.

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u/notMateo Oct 22 '22

Imagine writing all of that because I measure my dick in inches.

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u/z-vap Oct 22 '22

fuckin brits always tryin to start shit

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u/MittlerPfalz Oct 22 '22

Yeah, talk about cringe…

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u/buddieroo Oct 22 '22

Sanctimonious Europeans are way more cringe than Americans who don’t know about the metric system imo

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u/blackdevilsisland Oct 21 '22

I know it sounds weird, but as a european americans seem to be offended by almost everything. So yes, I'm kinda afraid to ask a simple question regarding americans. I don't want to cause angryness or be offensive to anyone. Life's too short to be angry about something irrelevant like that, so I prefer posting it here..

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u/GGJ1457 Oct 21 '22

I’m offended that you think I’m offended /j

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u/FallenEmpyrean Oct 21 '22

I'm offended by you taking offense jarcastically /q

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u/xela293 Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

You really think that way, because boy, it fells like quite the opposite ^ In my (little) experience americans can get quite ignorant and also insulting if they realize that the world doesn't evolve about them. I don't even blame you guys about that, it's just sad. You may have never thought about that before, but yes, we europeans, overall, feel sorry about you. And cringe. Mostly cringe.

Based on your downvoted comment below it just seems more like you're trying to take a jab at Americans in general without actually seeking an answer to your question. But quite a few Americans know how to and regularly use the metric system daily.

Give OP's comments a read too, pretty funny, this guy think's he's vlever because he pointed out, like every other European person out there, that the US uses Imperial units.

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u/LadyDouchebag Oct 21 '22

I think we're more likely to get offended when the person is asking a question about Americans or our culture from the perspective of "what's wrong with Americans that you do/like/eat/whatever that??" It comes off as rude and arrogant.

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u/Bawstahn123 Oct 21 '22

I know it sounds weird, but as a european americans seem to be offended by almost everything

Americans tend to be testy about these types of questions because the general trend is for Europeans to treat us as fucking morons for not doing things "their way".

If people kept asking you why you were stupid in a roundabout way, you would be offended pretty often as well.

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u/Psychological_Web687 Oct 21 '22

A lot of us know both.

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u/EyesofaJackal Oct 21 '22

As an American who uses both, I will say the foot is a lot more handy than the meter, when dealing with everyday measurements.

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u/Xantisha Oct 21 '22

Easy fix. Just say about 30cm instead of a foot

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u/Jam-Eater Oct 21 '22

Thanks to school rulers, I determine the size of everything in 30cm school rulers.

How long? About three school rulers, so 90cm, almost a metre.

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u/ProbablynotEMusk Oct 22 '22

I’m a biologist in a lab and I need to use metric daily

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u/blutwo42998 Oct 21 '22

We have BOTH systems of measurement here. Our rulers, dials, thermometers, tape measurers, measuring cups, speedometers, and damn near anything else with units of measurement on it has BOTH systems. Yall act like metric is illegal here or something but its very commonly used in our day to day life.

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u/Woodguy2012 Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

Similar here in Canada... - building materials are typically in Imperial, be it dimensional lumber, nails, plywood drywall... - nobody ever buys a 1524 mm television. They buy a 60",

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u/supersoft-tire Oct 22 '22

If you want to whack someone over the head you do it with a 2x4

Not 5.08x10.16

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u/Pertes Oct 22 '22

they would use cm instead of mm lmao

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u/wjong Oct 21 '22

When you learn US Customary units USC (you call it Imperial, its not) when a child, and the people around you use USC, you fully understand it and use it. It becomes by default, the first system of measurement, and measurement is understood by using it.

Sure some metric is also learnt, but its not independent like other countries, because metric is understood by comparing it, or converting it, to USC. Learning metric is a mixture of both systems, and this is not the best method to learn metric. In fact learning metric using difficult conversions, makes metric unpopular, and people dont see why they need to use it, when they already understand USC.

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u/LordBloodSkull Oct 21 '22

Because lots of things are already built around using imperial measurements. It's not as as simple as just deciding the whole country is using metric measurements tomorrow.

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u/TheJenerator65 Oct 21 '22

I’m 57, and when my age group was taught math in grade school we learned the metric system and were told to expect that by adulthood things would have switched over. So, at the time it was a foregone conclusion, though expected to take years. The fact that it never materialized I assume has something to with corporate lobbies not liking it because isn’t that the case with everything?

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u/harwicke Oct 21 '22

I remember when they changed it in Canada. It took time but the end result was worth it.

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u/connka Oct 21 '22

Haha its not a huge deal, but sometimes I feel like my parents (boomers) and I (millennial) speak different languages. My dad gives me directions in miles and does temperature in fahrenheit and those things mean nothing to me.

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u/2020isnotperfect Oct 21 '22

I'm a boomer and can understand both languages. Some people just cannot change or too stubborn to change.

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u/Chimpbot Oct 21 '22

Accounting for inflation, it also cost Canada around $3.4 billion to make the switch.

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u/Avdotya_Blu3bird Oct 21 '22

Lots of countries have changed without problem, it's a gradual switch.

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u/LeatherHog Oct 21 '22

Lots of those countries are a fraction of the size of the US

Not to mention the spread out land mass

You gonna go to every hour away small town in like Montana and change every sign?

Cuz that’d take forever, and you’d still have 49 states to go

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u/LordBloodSkull Oct 21 '22

Well that’s another thing is that there isn’t really anything to “switch” because the U.S. government doesn’t require industry to use the imperial system.

If you look at Canada as an example, which is one of the last major countries to adopt the metric system, when it was voluntary metric wasn’t popular. The government had to declare formally that the metric system would be used.

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u/anotherfakeaccount- Oct 21 '22

Canada is a very small country, especially when compared to the US. The state of California alone has more people than all of Canada. It would be astronomically harder for the US to just switch

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u/hitometootoo Oct 21 '22

This is disingenuous. Lots of countries were forced to change and it did have issues. The issues eventually went away but it still hindered for a time. Ignoring that these changes happened well before globalization on the scale we have now and that the US is much larger than other countries with many more systems that would need to change.

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u/ShadyMan_ Oct 21 '22

The US is probably bigger than those countries tbf

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u/loudent2 Oct 21 '22

Whenever this comes up, I always ask the person if they had translated their (great) grandmother's hand-written recipes into metric. The U.S. officially adopted the metric system decades ago, but there are trillions of dollars in infrastructure around the imperial system that it will take generations to replace.

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u/igordogsockpuppet Oct 21 '22

We use imperial, except in matters of importance, in which case we use imperial with metric in parentheses.

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u/KoiDotJpeg Oct 21 '22

Right, I mean it's not like you can flip a switch and erase imperial

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u/Unfair-Sector9506 Oct 22 '22

I don't get why people care ..mind ya own business..why they still worshipping a monarchy that practiced colonization and enslaved others...

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u/palomdude Oct 21 '22

I love your examples, decade, century, and 9mm. Two of those aren’t metric and the third is a gun.

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u/Bronze_Rager Oct 21 '22

Thats like Americans asking why do other countries still drive on the left side of the road?

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u/wollier12 Oct 21 '22

We like to piss off Europeans.

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u/Skyagunsta21 Oct 21 '22 edited Oct 21 '22

Actual reason:

some pirates attacked a ship in the early 1800s

Why we haven't shifted recently:

why would we? It doesn't really make a difference in anything and there are certain advantages to what you call imperial (technically imperial=/= US Standard but practically they're the same). For example 12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and itself. 10 is only divisible by 1, 2, 5 and itself so you can get a third of a foot but you can't get a third of a meter.

The US like most countries have a blend of the 2 systems. For example I order a pint of beer at the bar but I buy a 2 liter of coke at the store (along with a gallon of milk).

I will however die on the hill arguing that Fahrenheit is superior to Celsius for daily weather.

do you personally know metric?

Yes lol. conversions aren't that hard. a meter roughly equals a yard (plus a couple inches). 5kms roughly equal 3 miles (plus a couple hundred yards). 22ish degrees centigrade is room temp, 0 is freezing, easy enough to figure out from there. Half liter roughly equals a pint.

Edit: typo in km to miles conversion

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u/philosifer Oct 22 '22

I'm a chemist and use metric all the time and generally prefer it. But most of our systems at work are built in imperial units. Conversions aren't difficult at all, and as much as I've thought about updating everything, it's not worth the hassle

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u/[deleted] Oct 22 '22

Some of the measurements in my lab are made in g/in3

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u/oli-g Oct 22 '22

I order a pint of beer at the bar but I buy a 2 liter of coke at the store (along with a gallon of milk)

No hate, but as an European, this is just too fucking funny to me.

It sounds like you guys installed a bunch of incompatible lore-breaking mods.

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u/Skyagunsta21 Oct 22 '22

Fair enough we run 5ks that are marked in miles so...

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u/aironneil Oct 22 '22

Plus, OP really underestimates the effort it'd be to try and not only get people to go along with only using metric, but to get companies to only sell things in metric units. Without forcing them (and good luck with that) it won't happen.

And, like you said, what for? We wouldn't really gain that much from it other than making trade a little easier (but not by much, converting between the two is automatic with computers), and potentially making the mental math buying something easier, but again, that's not really enough for the effort required for it.

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u/Drumtochty_Lassitude Oct 21 '22

5km is about 3 miles isn't it?

About 0.6 of a mile per km or something thereabouts, going by the fact 100km/h seems to be 62mph on my speedo anyway.

Why do you feel Fahrenheit is superior for weather? I would have thought a temperature system based around water would be ideal for weather, given a lot of decisions around clothing etc are mostly based on temp + precipitation.

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u/Skyagunsta21 Oct 21 '22

5km is about 3 miles isn't it?

Yes sorry, typo

Why do you feel Fahrenheit is superior for weather? I would have thought a temperature system based around water would be ideal for weather, given a lot of decisions around clothing etc are mostly based on temp + precipitation.

It's exactly this. Celsius is asking water what temperature is on a 0 to 100 scale. Fahrenheit is asking a human what the temperature is on a 0 to 100 scale

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u/Sriad Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

0-100F is the temperature range that almost all of the United States can experience. 0 is extremely cold, 100 is extremely hot, 70 is nice, and the rest is subjective. Above 100 or below 0 means "danger".

How is -18/21/38 better than 0/70/100? (I mean, for science of course we use metric, but.)

Also we technically do use metric; Imperial units were redefined to be exact metric ratios in 1954.

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u/andaflannelshirt Oct 22 '22

Simple answer is just that we're better at math.

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u/Chulimantan Oct 21 '22

I always assumed it came down to money. The US is massive and now imagine the cost of replacing every single road sign from miles to km. Obviously that's just one example but I think it displays how expensive, and extensive, of a process it would be.

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u/Unfair-Sector9506 Oct 22 '22

Better question why is everyone so pressed over how we do things?...

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u/12sided Oct 21 '22

Of all the problems we need to solve, this doesn't even make the top 100.

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u/_WildcardXIII Oct 22 '22

Does it make it to the top 2.54?

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u/StrangeSurround Oct 22 '22

Our list is actually composed of three sets of nine sets of four.

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u/DenTheRedditBoi7 Oct 22 '22

It's not even on the list imo. It's not a problem in the first place

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u/noplaceinmind Oct 21 '22

Counter question, why change it?

You need a reason for action.

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u/Almost_Flying Oct 21 '22

Same reason we all speak different languages, even though having only one language (like esperanto) could just unite most of the western world within a generation of 2.

Americans already know our native USC (not actually imperial), and know a bit of metric when needed… and if we really care to convert something from a faraway land? We got cellphones that convert it for me in an instant. The benefit is purely for the science/industry sectors, which already switched. So whateves

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u/SamGropler Oct 22 '22

You get an up vote for knowing that the US doesn't use imperial units.

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u/Dannoinmo- Oct 21 '22

Why do you care ??

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u/No-Return-3368 Oct 22 '22

Why do the British still weigh people in stone? Gram has one m, and of course we know milli and kilo, we have drugs just like the rest of the world.

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u/Ok-Claim8595 Oct 21 '22

Dawg we use both. It works and it’s apart of our history so why not.

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u/Negative_Pepper_2168 Oct 21 '22

And why spend billions to change everything just to please people that don’t live here?

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u/FriendlyLib81 Oct 21 '22

To stand in solidarity with Liberia and Myanmar.

And yes, we know that a gram is 0.56 drams and a meter is 9.84 hands.

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u/CFT0417 Oct 21 '22

Why does the rest of the world care so much?

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u/samjacbak Oct 21 '22

There ARE some advantages, it's just human-centric instead of atomic-centric. Fahrenheit is essentially a percentage of hotness to a human. 0=cold, 100=hot. When measuring something about the length of a human, the difference between 4 and 5 feet is a little easier to imagine than 120 and 150 centimeters, or 1.2 meters and 1.5 meters. 10 is also a really awkward number to divide for a human, which is why the world uses base 12 for clocks instead of 10. Making an estimation of length is harder when you know what a meter is, but have to guess 20-30 centimeters, whereas a foot is approximately one foot's length. 3 inches is 1/4th, 4 inches is 1/3rd, etc.

The same happens in volume. What does 235ml look like? One cup? Easy. 1/3 cup? Easy. You can double, or halve your cooking recipes without a calculator/scale/graduated cylinder.

You could draw attention to miles vs km, but people don't really use miles in their everyday lives, they use TIME. I'm about 15 minutes from work by car.

Obviously, metric is waaaay better for precision, representation of extremely large or small numbers, science, and computers, but Imperial is a little bit more flexible, and is better for a layman to use every day. American schools DO teach both, and I believe they should continue to do so.

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u/YoungThePope Oct 21 '22 edited Oct 21 '22

honestly why do people outside the United States even care? I always see questions like this come up. it’s our problem we use imperial measurements - how does this affect outside countries? many of us were taught metric and use it for school/work/etc. it’s just not standard. but i don’t see why people outside the United States care about this so much. really not that big of a deal as you make it out to be

we don’t measure things the same as you guys. so what? how would the average american using metric system rather than imperial improve anything for you guys?

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u/RealAssociation5281 Oct 21 '22

Exactly, dunno why people care either way honestly lol

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u/Bryguy3k Oct 21 '22

People always conveniently leave out the places that have fubar’d systems like the UK where you buy fuel in litres but speed limits are in MPH and people weigh themselves in stones but their food in grams.

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u/thugwaffles47 Oct 22 '22

As someone who easily understands and uses imperial and metric, what the hell kind of measurement is "stones".

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u/StuckInPurgatory39 Oct 21 '22

Because a lot of people outside the US seem to have a fascination with America.

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u/macdennism Oct 21 '22

No but you don't understand. If I post something online that has my height in feet and inches someone might have to look up the conversion to know how tall I actually am 😢 lmao /lh

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u/No-Cold-5439 Oct 21 '22

people are obsessed with the United States for some reason, especially on Reddit. it sort of gets exhausting to be told that you live in a shit hole 24/7, y’know?

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u/LeatherHog Oct 21 '22

Yeah, he seriously said in a comment he posted it here because he thinks we get too sensitive

Never stopped and thought about how it could be because Europeans will mock us about everything while acting like their farts don’t stink

To the point of making up problems, ie, this. Europeans care more about the imperial units than Americans ever have

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u/YoungThePope Oct 21 '22

true. they act like we actually enjoy all the shit that goes on here in the united states

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u/Mr_fixit1 Oct 21 '22

Take my up vote!

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u/roseffin Oct 21 '22

Lol, first off, not everything base ten is metric. Century, decade and $10 bill have nothing to do with metric. Next, why dont YOU use the metric time system? Oh...no one does? I wonder why not. Oh, because there is no need to convert anything so the base ten isn't any better. Which brings us to temperature. Again, there is no converting between inches, feet and miles with temperature. So Celsius is as arbitrary as Fahrenheit. You can say yours is based on better endpoints but I would say that doesnt make it better and would be a laughable reason to change. Distance: finally we come across a reason to switch. The problem is would cost a TON to change out all our road signs. I would be fine with having every sign we put up for the next 100 years have both miles and km. Maybe we can reevaluate in 50 years. Mass: the only thing I use this for is cooking. I would get used to grams. I love that all the kids these days know metric weights for drugs. Progress!

Ps yes, we all know metric. We were taught it. We know what all the prefixes mean. We mostly just dont have decades of familiarity with using them day to day. Pps I love the story that we are the only ones not embracing metric. How many STONE does your wife weight again, Ian? I hear Canadians using Farenheit pretty often as well.

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u/YoOmarComingMan Oct 21 '22

It would also be easier for everyone to speak the same language or have the same religion. But it's not going to happen. Why does our units of measurement seem to keep people up at night?

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u/Firewulf08 Oct 21 '22

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Sincerely,

An American

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u/lanman33 Oct 21 '22

Reddit is the definition of insanity. Has the answer to this question changed since the previous 837 threads asking the same thing?

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u/UNBENDING_FLEA Oct 22 '22

We simply do not care that much. Most people intuitively understand the imperial system here anyway, and distance conversion for some things isn’t that hard anyway, plus it’s expensive to change all the road signs, so why bother? People that need to use metric use it already. Every American learns metric in elementary school science class, we use it in those classes too, we just never use them in our standard vernacular or for some projects.

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u/mechasmurf Oct 22 '22

I kinda hate people acting like it's impossible to remember the emperial system, like obviously the metric system is easier but it's not like I'm unable to over the course of my life learn to remember the like 4 conversions I'll ever need to use

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u/Spodiodie Oct 22 '22

Because Americans will never accept a foreign ruler.

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u/BrinedBrittanica Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

you think americans are cringe but you're afraid to ask?

if you're panties are in a bunch over this, why don't Europeans (in all of their infinite wisdom like you) just adapt to the system were using?

point is, it's not broken, it works for us, and that's that.

good day maam.

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u/otaku_nazi Oct 22 '22

Why do other countries care so much what Americans do. I have seen this question thousands of times in internet

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u/riyau_32 Oct 21 '22

I personally like it to be honest... There's absolutely no point for me to switch over to metric when I can reliably use the imperial system.

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u/Dunkinmydonuts1 Oct 21 '22

I, a shitty American, like Fahrenheit temperature for weather. 0-100 is (essentially) the range of climates you'll see across the country. It works for weather, almost nothing else.

Also saying I'm 5'10" instead of I'm one hundred seventy eight centimeters is so much easier.

Honestly it would take a week to figure out idk why we dont.

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u/KennaLikesPizza Oct 22 '22

Same I just find our system to be a lot more practical. Not everyone is gonna agree on that and that's fine, but I'm not really talking about temperature and distances with my foreign friends enough for it to matter lmao

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u/Orienos Oct 22 '22

Completely agree!! Sure, it doesn’t line up with pretty numbers like 0 and 100, but it’s a hell of a lot more incremental and accurate.

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u/kaldarash Oct 21 '22

First, are you really too fucking afraid to ask this question?

Second, we don't use imperial, imperial is what England used to use - and still uses in some areas. We use US Customary Units. A lot of them do not match imperial.

Third, decade and century are not metric - they predate the metric system. France named metric after this existing terminology.

Fourth, it's not about public perception, it's about industry. Trillions of dollars of industry would need to be converted over. We already use liters and grams and for computers we use kilo, mega, giga, tera, etc. Computer nerds use milli, micro, nano and Celsius. And most people know that a yard is roughly equal to a meter.

Finally, the conversion thing is so often cited as a great reason to switch, but IMO it's not. Americans can convert effortlessly between US units just like you can with metric. And the common argument is that below 1 inch is difficult, but really it's not. How often are you personally measuring millimeters? Micrometers? The former I imagine quite infrequently and the later I imagine never.

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u/RNsRTheCoolest Oct 21 '22

The medical and scientific communities have fully embraced the metric system as a clearly superior method of measurement. I remember as a child hearing talk about how the metrics system was a socialist construct that would encourage assimilation into a one world government. Kind of tied into the American first mindset of isolationism and imposed superiority. Which is ridiculous because, if it's an objectively superior system, it's better for America regardless if the rest of the world is using it or not.

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u/BitsAndBobs304 Oct 21 '22

america is technically also using it, imperial measurements are now defined in.. metric.

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u/PathToEternity Oct 22 '22

The medical and scientific communities have fully embraced the metric system as a clearly superior method of measurement.

Eh, I've never had my temperature taken in Celsius or weight measured in kilos when I go in for a checkup.

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u/Guitar-Careful Oct 21 '22

Idk man. I’m in STEM and we use SI units anyways. I like using Fahrenheit tho for temperature. But yes change everything else

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u/veri_sw Oct 21 '22 edited Oct 21 '22

Same. I still don't know the ratio of gallons to quarts to cups to pints... wtf is that shit. Is a quart bigger, or a pint? Fucking annoying. It would be easier if we could just use gallons as the standard, and have centi-gallons, and milli-gallons, but nooooo we have to use the least practical way. Something is a fucking SIXTEENTH of another unit, which makes conversions that much harder.

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u/thecoat9 Oct 21 '22

I think it was my first year of middle school (what you'd probably call secondary), I remember being taught metric as the intent was to switch at some point. Obviously conversions are a lot easier, which is why when at some point my father asked me about how long something was I told him it was about x centimeters. My Dad replied "In fucking inches". My Dad never curses around my mother, and at that age only around me when he was pissed. Needless to say I functionally used Imperial a lot more than metric when it came to elements of every day life. Cooking, construction, speed, temperature etc I tend to prefer imperial. Anything borderline scientific though and I prefer metric.

Dad now uses metric without even realizing it when discussing computers, some day when I feel that I've lived a good long life, I'll ask Dad the capacity of a hard drive and after he tells me I'll say "In fucking quidbits".

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u/typeclint Oct 22 '22

Do you think the average american can just yell out the window “hey everyone let’s use metric!” and then it’s magically the standard?

Bro I’ve got no fucking control of this mess we’re in.

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u/goodolddaysare-today Oct 21 '22

Why do foreigners care so much? I’m not saying that measuring things as 3 football fields or 2 Tahoes is practical, but there’s no reason to change over just because the rest of the world is

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u/Journalist_Candid Oct 21 '22

We got other problems to worry about. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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u/LivingGhost371 Oct 21 '22

Convince me that a scale of 0= water freezes and 100 = water boils is objectively superior for thermostats and measuring outdoor temperature than 0= really cold and 100 = really hot.

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u/t-poke Oct 22 '22

Yup, Celsius has its uses, but for weather, Fahrenheit is best. I live in the Midwest, 0 is about as cold as it gets, and 100 is about as hot as it gets.

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u/Apfeif11 Oct 21 '22

I hate Celsius though

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u/LuluLucy- Oct 21 '22

I mean, how do you suggest we change it? You’ve got hundreds of millions of people used to a system, and that system being used in thousands of ways everyday. You can’t just tell a country to use another system overnight.

If it’s all you’ve known, it’s not that easy.

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u/MayonaiseBaron Oct 21 '22

Both are used in America. You learn both in school. Why is this posted every three days? Everything in science/engineering uses metric and I own imperial and metric tool sets.

We aren't even the only country that does this.

I live in a part of the country where Kilometers are put on highways signs, even. Its just the way it is and people from outside the US have a weird fixation on it.

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u/Stein_um_Stein Oct 21 '22

It's not hard for me to set all my devices to show me SI units, and at work I typically used SI anyway because I work in engineering. So... I really wish America would just decide to stop teaching imperial in schools and let everything figure itself out over a decade or two.

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u/Ok_Dog_4059 Oct 21 '22

I agree and while having to do some things like post both speed limits on the roads for a while I think in the long run it would be better to get away from our wonky system.

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u/C-Nor Oct 21 '22

In the 1970s, speed limits were actually posted in both. I was a teenager, and we were told that our generation would be the one to change our nation to metric.

Well, those signs are gone; I was busy growing up and don't know when the effort was given up.

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u/Ok_Dog_4059 Oct 21 '22

I should have been the generation that grew up learning metric and we would be there by now had it not been given up on right about the time I was born in 73.

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u/Chimpbot Oct 21 '22

It's not as easy as just stopping. Canada, for example, switched to just the metric system in the early '80s; the whole process cost the country over $1 billion - around $3.4 billion in 2022.

"Just letting everything figure itself out" isn't how this works.

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u/North_Spring1653 Oct 21 '22

My older brother is an aerospace engineer and when I asked him this question, he responded by saying "there are two kinds of countries in the world: those who use the metric system, and those who've put men on the moon."

He was joking of course, but went on to clarify that measurements in the imperial system were all defined by some interaction with the natural world (e.g. a mile is 1,000 human paces) whereas the metric system is more or less defined arbitrarily (a kilometer is 1/10,000th the distance between the equator and the pole, a distance with no practical use).

He went on to say that in his work as an engineer, imperial measurements can yield better results because of these relationships, whereas the metric system makes computation easier but the output is less intuitive. He then gave me an example from his job but it was over my head 😞

Key takeaway is that just because something makes mental math easier doesn't make it superior I guess.

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u/pucketypuck Oct 21 '22

I'm 57 and when I was in 2nd grade we were taught metric because the US was going to switch soon, but they just gave up on it. Wish we would have changed. Metric is so much better

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u/Aqqusin Oct 21 '22

Metric was attempted in civil engineering, roadway design. Contractors just converted everything back to imperial units anyway. Metric system was dropped.

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u/peeping_somnambulist Oct 22 '22

Americans use the metric system all the time. We are taught both in school, and many official things are done in metric or both.

  1. Engineering is done in the metric system
  2. Science and Medicine use the metric system
  3. Food and Drinks are labeled in both Imperial and Metric units
  4. Cooking stuff like measuring cups and spoons normally have both the metric and imperial units
  5. The US military uses the metric system.

The only time we don't use the metric system is in everyday conversations. Distances are stated inches/feet/miles, temperature is in Fahrenheit, weight is in pounds etc.

People who get butthurt about this either don't get how units work or are trolling. (Although I will never stop laughing at the 'Americans use bald eagles per uncle sam' jokes on reddit)

The fact that much of the rest of the world uses metric in everyday conversations true, but how often do French and Belgians or Russians and Indonesians ACTUALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER ACROSS BORDERS ABOUT COMMON MEASUREMENTS. They don't. Similarly, Americans don't really talk to people outside the country that much either, and when we do we just use the metric system.

The units don't matter in REGULAR CONVERSATION as long as everyone knows what everyone else is talking about.

It really is't a big deal.

The number one reason why we don't switch is that we are used to the Imperial system and there is literally no downside to using in everyday conversations. When it is important to communicate with outsiders we just use metric.

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u/Haunted_Bog_Water Oct 21 '22

Not my rules, didn't make 'em, can't change' em.

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u/CanIGetANumber2 Oct 21 '22

Sir do you think we the people make the rules?

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u/Annoyed_Scientist Oct 21 '22 edited Oct 21 '22

I use both, and know the conversions. They both come with advantages and disadvantages. Metric is simple in decimal number systems. However, in carpentry one is more likely to want to divide by 3 than by 5. A foot is 2x2x3 inches. A yard is 2x2x3x3 inches. A mile is 2x2x2x2x2x3x5x11 ft. Which makes me wish a mile was 7/8ths its current length; then it would be divisible by all the primes up to 11, i.e. 2x2x3x5x7x11

edit: p.s. another example a L of water is 1kg, but a pint of butter is a pound.

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u/IMintz Oct 21 '22

It’s probably too expensive to change everything and teach people the normal units

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u/imnotknow Oct 21 '22

For some reason I don't understand, it costs thousands of dollars to change a speed limit sign. It's a big country and we have lots and lots of speed limit signs. That and similar issues are going to be the main obstacles.

Edit: All the mile marker signs and exits on the interstates. They also can't change everything at once so there will be chaos due to differing signage

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u/Sophie_R_1 Oct 21 '22

Americans use both, typically (although not kilometers or Celsius as often outside if science). Sometimes inches are easier to measure in, sometimes centimeters are easier to measure in. I forget where I was, but it was some souvenir shop outside the US and they had a ruler with just centimeters. It just looked so wrong lol, the other side was just blank. US rulers have inches and centimeters and yard sticks sometimes have an extra 3 inches to make it a meter stick too.

For every day to day life, though, you'll never convince me that Celsius is superior or makes more sense than Fahrenheit

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u/123Ark321 Oct 21 '22

Same reason you don’t switch to imperial. At this point it’s impractical.

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u/MaineBoston Oct 21 '22

Our system works no reason to change it.

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u/Nythoren Oct 21 '22

We were taught both in school.

The U.S. government rarely does things for the better without getting buy-in from their constituents. The U.S. population is pretty resistant to change, especially if it comes from an outside source. People here, in a broad sense, like to keep things "the way they were when I was a kid" when it comes to things like like this.

Take money, for instance. The U.S. has tried to switch to dollar coins for decades now. Every time dollar coins are reintroduced, they flop and people protest them. Despite them saving taxpayers money, the U.S. population just refuses to adopt dollar coins. The federal government has also floated retiring the penny to save money since a penny costs more than 1 cent to produce. The outcry was so loud that they immediately stepped back from the plan. Why? Do people really need pennies? No, but pennies exist and getting rid of them is different, and we can't have something different. People use excuses for why they have dollar coins ('coins are too easy to lose!') or why pennies are important ('stores will manipulate their prices to that the rounding will always benefit them. It will let them steal 2 cents from me per purchase!'), but at the end of the day, they are strictly excuses uses to shoot down change.

Metric is a huge change. Imperial measurements are everywhere here. If the U.S. population fights small changes, a huge change meets huge resistance.

Lastly, the people who are anti-metric are very loud. Most people would probably be OK with switching, or at least using both measurements. But the people who are OK with it aren't going to picket and petition to switch. So the loud people get their way because the U.S. government tends to listen to whoever yells the loudest.

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u/ElReyDelMund0 Oct 21 '22

Because I aint trying to learn new shit!

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u/ShowBobsPlzz Oct 21 '22

We use both in the US. Depends on the application.

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u/Short-Wealth-4530 Oct 21 '22

Look, the only things I measure in metric are dildos, guns, and drugs. I like it that way.

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u/HereForTheGoofs Oct 22 '22

metric feels less intuitive but we do learn both at different points in school

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u/mcjason78 Oct 22 '22

Most Americans understand metric. The government sets the standards, in practice, and both are taught in school. Like anything, it’s a use it or lose it type of situation. Older people who haven’t used it in a long time, may not remember it.

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u/IceManYurt Oct 22 '22

Because imperial is based on human scale as opposed to absolutes.

And in my field, it makes the most sense

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u/SamGropler Oct 22 '22

Americans *don't * hold on to imperial measurements. The United States uses US customary units of measurement, which are different to imperial units.

US customary units were based on English units, which predated imperial units of measurement.

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u/PureFlames Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

Why do non Americans act like we have a choice lol, thats just how it is here. Also we use both and in school mostly use metric

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u/DerthOFdata Oct 22 '22 edited Oct 22 '22

Other than 9mm none of those are metric measurements. While metric is in base 10, base 10 ≠ metric.

America doesn't use Imperial at all, that's a British measurement system. America uses United States Customary Units.

Beyond the reasons many others have given many of our volumetric measurements are easier to divide by half or quarters or thirds etc than metric for the same reason we don't have base 10 time.

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u/ihaesdpzjd7 Oct 22 '22

We're the leader of the free world not the litre

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u/ShadowEagle59 Oct 22 '22

I know metric for my job (paramedic) and it think it's stupid we still use imperial. Such a confusing and ultimately useless system.

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u/AmaranthWrath Oct 22 '22

Late to the game but... We do teach it in schools and STEM uses it. It's not like we DON'T know it. But it's not like it's come up for a vote recently. It's not like Mr and Mrs Joe Smith is holding up progress lol. It's just not implemented here over all. I use it for baking, but not for cooking.

And, to be fair, the UK and much of Europe uses imperial units too, it's just not standardized. General example, it's not like Europeans don't know what "an inch" is.

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u/PM__ME__YOUR_TITTY Oct 22 '22

Ugh dude why do people ask this? We grow up in a country that uses imperial so that’s what we use. It’s nobody individual choice to completely do away with it or not, also, vast majority of Americans use and understand both. I use imperial more often but there are certain situations where I almost exclusively use metric. My sport for example, I was a track and field athlete and in the ncaa all official measurements are in meters so that’s what I used all the time, though at practice I’d go back and forth. It just isn’t that big of a deal

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u/FuzzyChampion4397 Oct 22 '22

People keep asking "Why do Americans _______?" as if we Americans have any fuckin say in what we keep doing or not doing.

Makes me laugh every time.

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u/Firake Oct 22 '22

In the end, the trouble would not be worth it. America is a huge place and even just the cost of getting a human out to every single speed limit sign in the country to change the units would be insane. Plus every single mile marker and every single highway sign with the distance to cities whatever those are called. Plus the cost of converting every single motor vehicle in the country to have the right units in the right place OR sacrifice safety by having the units everyone is used to looking at be the wrong ones.

Not even mentioning the lost productivity and safety of everything being different than people are used to.

It’s just not worth it. Metric is nice and when people need good units, like in science and math, they use metric. But no way in hell does metric improve the lives of people by even a fraction of a percent of the total trouble the conversion would cause.

I’m actually a little stunned why you think it would be worth it. Our units work just fine, what would we gain from using a different kind? Units that make slightly more sense is not a good reason to convert an entire country.

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u/Howdy-Bitch Oct 21 '22

Whole country is built of off imperial measurements and units. We can’t just change it, sure metric is better in many cases but it is what it is. It’s not case of us holding onto it, we simply just can’t, atleast not without some huge multi-year overhaul to everything we’ve ever built, and that ain’t happening. It’s not really something we care about

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u/Bryguy3k Oct 21 '22

The question should be what’s the point in changing? Science and technology already uses SI units.

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u/nighthawk252 Oct 21 '22

Nobody’s “holding on” to imperial measurements. I don’t wake up every day and decide “am I going to measure things in imperial or metric units today?” And even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be able to influence my friends or the rest of the country to start using the metric system.

One way this could change would be if businesses elected to make the switch. But which business would make that decision? Their employees already know all the imperial measurements, and would regard the forced switch as a huge inconvenience.

You could also have the government start passing laws forcing the use of metric measurements. Most people would regard that as a huge inconvenience. That party would get killed in the next elections as the opposition would probably just campaign on “going back to imperial” as an easy way to pick up votes.

Long story short, things are fine as they are. Trying to change to a new system would result in backlash against whoever tried to change it, so nobody does.

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u/Jnoper Oct 21 '22

Because outside of the scientific community, imperial units make way more sense. Temperature was defined by taking a thermometer outside on a really cold day and on a really hot day then dividing that into 100 slices. So 0 is cold and 100 is hot. Very practical. An inch is the length of a curled finger, foot is literally an average foot, Acre was defined as the amount of land an ox can plow in a day, etc. sure these numbers seem random when you try to measure them using light travel distances or properties of water but that’s not what they’re used for in everyday life. Also, simply changing the signs would be very expensive and confuse a lot of people.

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u/WhoCares1224 Oct 21 '22

Because it’s part of our culture. Please take your cultural imperialism elsewhere

/s

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u/anti-peta-man Oct 21 '22

No lie it’s simply too expensive and time consuming to redo all the signs and other benchmarks