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Virgil Arrington wrote:
I'm old enough to remember the push back in the '70s to move to the
metric system in America. At the time, it made a lot of sense to me
simply because everything metric is in multiples of 10. But, I think
the biggest bugaboo for Americans was that we just couldn't get the
handle of visualizing and conceiving the actual size of things in
metric units. I can visualize and estimate a foot, a yard, even a
mile. I have a harder time estimating a meter or kilometer.

Every country that switched went through that. Are Americans dumber than everyone else?

In terms of absolute size, there is nothing about an inch that is any
more or less arbitrary than a centimeter. Both are identifiable and
equally arbitrary spans of space. A yard is no more or less arbitrary
than a meter. It's just that a meter is broken down into subparts
measured in multiples of ten, whereas the yard is broken down into
units of three feet and 36 inches. Certainly, the metric system makes
more sense internally, but for those of us accustomed to inches, feet,
and yards, we see no problem with it.

The metric system was based on actual physical units. For example, the metre was originally 1/10,000,000 the distance from the equator to the poles. The celcius temperature scale was based on the freezing and boiling points of water etc. Now compare that to how inches, yards, miles (which one?) etc. were determined. Why is there a difference between U.S. & Imperial gallons? There's even a difference in the size of the fluid ounce, so that the U.S. ounce is bigger than the Imperial. Then we get to a U.S. gallon is 4 quarts, a quart is 32 ounces (but bigger ounces than Imperical) and an Imperial gallon is 4 quarts, but that quart is 40 (smaller) ounces. Makes for a lot of fun, doesn't it.
And, I think that is the reason things won't change here. Until we
perceive our system as broken, we won't look for ways to fix it,
especially if it costs money to do so. It works for us just fine,
thank you, even if it is goofy.

The problem is that some people, such as Reagan, refuse to acknowledge the problem. On the other hand, Carter, a professional engineer, could certainly appreciate the benefits of the metric system. When you work in science or engineering, the metric system leaves the old units in the dust. There is simply no comparison.

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