Found On A Forum: Why didn’t America switch to the Metric System?

arbitrary_americans_measuringThread Title

Why didn’t America switch to the Metric System?

My Response
There’s no point. The system in place functions perfectly well. America does use it in science and advanced engineering.

At the practical level, I prefer being able to break things into simple fractions rather than increasingly long strings. (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16) > (.5, .25, .125, .0625). When it comes to liquid measurements, our system is based on the idea that halving creates new measurements. This can be done quickly and easily without the need for any special measuring tools. Split a gallon in half twice and you get a quart. Break the quart into halves and you get a pint. Break a pint in half and you get a cup. That makes more sense when it comes to working in the marketplace or the kitchen.

When it comes to distance measurements, mile is a little silly but yards, feet and inches are easier to work with than centimeters and meters, at least for me. I find metric a better tool when working in the abstract, but if I’m building a deck or landscaping a yard, imperial trumps the hell out of metric. An inch is about the width of my thumb and a foot is about the length of my foot with my boot on. Take one step, that’s a yard. That’s practical.

tl;dr The imperial system is more practical, the metric is better for theoretical applications. We use both in America, but we base our use on the application.


Found on a Forum is a series of articles based on different discussions the writer has had somewhere on the internet (often in The Why? Movement Forum). Being a writer for a web magazine and a long-winded ass, that content is often long enough to make an article, so why not? As such, remember that FOAF content should be read as a conversation and not a polished feature, and no editorial fact-checking was done before inclusion on the website. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments!

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