What Makes Some People So

Self-Righteous About the Metric System?




I often like to look at websites that focus on so-called ‘science’ or a self-styled ‘exploration of space’. I’ve always loved pondering God’s Creation, and the articles found at such sites --- while frequently dripping with modernist drivel or atheistic nonsense --- can deepen my insights into His Divine Mind. But one article in particular about a recent lunar probe happened to cite the distance of the probe from earth & moon as it snapped an image of the two together. Problem is, the article cited the distance in both the old measuring system (miles) and the newer metric system (kilometers). This, thought many readers, was unacceptable. How quaint! How backward! How stupid! they ranted in the comments section at the bottom of the webpage. This sort of thing should be outlawed. How can a nation like America defy the entire world and cling to an inefficient way of measurement based on an ancient hodge podge of units & scale from Great Britain? And on and on they went.


Well… this was just too good to pass up. The burr in their saddle that bores so painfully into their metaphorical hind regions practically demanded of me that I register to throw my two bits worth into the ring, also. The comment below is exactly as it was posted. Only the date at the beginning and a splash of highlighting throughout the text has been added.


1 September 2009


You know, I sympathize a lot with the metric-pumpers since I was raised in the generation that was taught how wonderful & efficient the metric system is supposed to be. However, efficiency is not the be-all and end-all of everything. In fact, in a world where the totem of ‘diversity’ is practically shoved down our throats, it’s a bit surprising that people want to make everyone monolithically identical when it comes to measurement. Consider: would such people go so far as to demand that everybody learn Esperanto (or, as is the case nowadays, English, since it is the de facto language of global communication & trade) and use this international language exclusively, even to the point of dispatching with their own languages entirely? And all for the sake of --- as is undeniable, were a universal tongue mandated for all --- greater efficiency?


Intelligent persons can use the old imperial system (or U.S. customary units, or what-have-you) without too much trouble. It’s not that hard. Our very capable brains make this possible. Granted, worldwide adoption of metric poses some hurdles for the lone holdouts. Nevertheless, this is no more difficult to overcome than is translation of important documents into various languages used in different parts of the earth. Furthermore, all scientists in the United States use the metric system without exception; it is a foregone reality. They are already internationalists first, and Americans second. Anybody pursuing a career in science in the U.S. accepts this and acts accordingly. So what’s the fuss all about? That Americans still have highway signs in the old measuring system? Yet why should this matter to people in another part of the world? They’re not forced to use American measurements in their country. Why should Americans be forced to use another nation’s way of measuring in their own country? And this doesn’t even begin to grapple with the fact that most human beings are more than intelligent enough to handle more than one measuring system in their minds. That is to say, just as the average person can learn to be bilingual, so, too, can the average person easily learn to use two or more measuring systems in daily life. Or is this not what American scientists do regularly, employing metric in the lab and reading signposts in imperially-derived U.S. customary units as they drive home?


What this really seems to come down to is busybody arrogance. As in, “I’m a lot smarter than you, and I know what’s good for you. Don’t you want to be more efficient? Don’t you want to be as clever & contemporary as me? Don’t you want to fit in with the rest of the world? Don’t you want really smart people like me to approve of you, and deign to hang out with you and socialize with you occasionally? So use metric!” There is nothing intrinsically evil about using the old imperial system. It has a certain charm for those who appreciate something other than a global monoculture, and those who grow up with it are understandably attached to it. Apart from efficiency --- and the kneejerk hubris that afflicts those who are passionately devoted to the metric system --- there is only one reason that drives the bandwagon for metric conformity. To wit, the lure of internationalism. After all, in a world where everybody is expected to ‘think globally’, how can we not demand that human beings share practically everything in common --- including an international measuring system? The problem is, whoever said world peace depends on sharing everything in common... and why should we believe this person? Indeed, whatever happened to valuing people & circumstances for their differences? Where is the bandwagon for a much ballyhooed ‘diversity’ when it comes to measurements?


It appears that ‘diversity’ is only invoked when someone doesn’t want anyone thinking one thing is better than another thing. But when the party line is that a particular thing truly is better than everything else, then diversity be damned. You had better conform.


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Pilate’s query met:




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© 2009 by Paul Doughton.

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