official evaluation of metric vs standard

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This is how most people conceive of Standard vs Metric. So, the Americans decided to come up with some random system just to be complicated, and Metric everything is logical, commonsense, and useful.

Having now lived in Standard and in Metric, I’m definitely a qualified expert to judge between the two systems, and I’d like to say… they have their ups and downs. Here’s my evaluation (which will disregard all scientific use of either system, judging purely based on real-life usage):


As far as miles vs kilometers go, I have nothing to say. I don’t think either one is objectively better for everyday life, because who actually uses a foot-to-mile or meter-to-kilometer conversion for regular life anyway? So let’s not bother talking about that.

For feet/inches vs meters/centimeters, though… It’s a draw. Measuring height is, I think, easier in Standard (fewer numbers to remember. I can estimate a person’s height pretty reliably within three inches, because knowing what three, four, five, and six feet look like doesn’t take that much mental effort, and then you give or take a handful of inches… whereas in Metric, you have to juggle around between roughly 150 and 190-ish? centimeters, and proportions are harder to keep track of). However, in pretty much everything else… like measuring materials, works of art, geographical features, etc, probably Metric is more useful. Because meters are better than yards.


Considering liquid volume, because I think the last time I talked about cubic anything was math class in high school: again, I feel like standard is better for estimating everyday life things, just because the ounce is more sensibly sized than the milliliter and more sensibly named than than the centiliter (who even knows what that is?). However, I will grant that even I sometimes forget the relationships between ounces and cups and pints and quarts and gallons because good grief, too many conversions to keep track of. So I think Metric wins this one… I can deal with milliliters in fifties if I feel like estimating.


For practical purposes, I’m calling no difference. Except that it is super confusing that “ounce” can be volume or weight. For lack of any other evidence to either side, I’m calling this one for Metric.


Immediate win for Standard. It’s so nice to ask the temperature, be told, “It’s in the teens,” and know immediately what to expect on exiting the building.  In Celsius, if someone told me, “It’s in the teens,” I would have no idea how to dress, no idea how to mentally prepare myself, basically no idea what it actually feels like outside.

BONUS: Cooking

In America, we do recipes by volume. Everywhere else, recipes are mostly in weight, with occasional volume sneaking in. So that’s already a strike against Metric, because consistency is nice. Also, have you ever tried to measure water by weight? It’s much easier to just fill a cup with it and there. Done. I will grant that it’s more exact to measure, say, flour, by weight than by volume… but cooking probably doesn’t need to be that exact. Plus, measuring cups are cheaper than a kitchen scale. Standard wins.

This means we’re at an overall draw. So please, Metric-superiorists, take it easy. I won’t pretend my system makes sense if you don’t pretend yours is always convenient.

(just for everybody’s reference)

One thought on “official evaluation of metric vs standard

  1. Katie,

    Day one of med school and everything is in metric! So in medical practice one has to adapt back to some feet and pounds for patients,and tumors are other pathology, including microscopic slides, is still in centigrade; that makes for some tough converting when explaining things to the patients. By the way, Linda frequently uses a scale in cooking.

    Our weather in winter is always milder here than both north and south, milder Indianapolis, 100 miles south! But the rain over night is to turn to slushy snow tomorrow to go to church. Of interest, Our church, The Chapel, never closes unless the city prohibits driving except for emergency vehicles!

    We continue to pray on Sunday afternoons. Send requests.


    PS Can you down load movies from the internet — it’s the WW Web, right?


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