The real reasons the US refuses to go metric
100 Comments


– We struggle with units of measurement all the time on our channel and it’s something that we
get a lot of comments about. – [Woman] Pro tip: use the metric system. – [Man] Why don’t you
use the metric system man, so annoying. – [Woman] Metric please. – [Man] Just use the
(bleeped out) metric system, for god’s sake – We interview scientists,
engineers, and other researchers but they live in a metric world. We then have to turn
around and make a video but around half of our
audience is American. So if we say something in
centimeters or kilograms it could trip up a lot of our viewers. We’ve tried going back and forth. We should make an executive decision about using Fahrenheit or celsius. Um, its like three, isn’t
it three something feet? We should know this. We’ve put conversions
in parentheses on screen but it’s a mess and we want to know why. Almost everyone on the
planet uses the metric system but why has the United States held out? Well, there are a ton of
reasons both big and small but here are three reasons that we’ve never considered before. Reason number one: US measures are dumb but they make sense. Officially, the United
States uses a system known as the US customary measures. It’s adapted from the imperial system that we inherited from
our British forefathers and we’ve clung to their
feet and ounces ever since. The UK is now officially metric-based but in practice, imperial units are sticking around there, too. – I’m in such a quandary. I wake up in kilograms,
I go to bed in ounces. I, you know, do I measure
things by meters or feet? I don’t know, it’s actually,
no it’s fine, it’s fine. – That’s James Vincent,
a reporter for The Verge. – James lives in the UK but writes for a US-based publication. So, he’s pretty familiar
with the headaches caused by juggling two systems of measurement. – I put it along as a prop but now I haven’t had
a chance to use it yet. – James says feet and
ounces might be clunky but the US and the UK haven’t ditched them because they just work. – A foot, for example, is
more relatable than a meter which was originally
defined as one ten-millionth the distance from the
equator to the North Pole. A foot is what it sounds like. An inch is about the
width of an adult thumb. If you have a body, you
can use these measures. – Some people argue and I
think there’s the decent case to be made that they
are sort of on a human scale. – And while many European
countries ditched their old measures because they
were irregular or confusing, America’s units were just more consistent right from the get-go. US has started on a stronger footing than many European countries did. They have had good, consistent
weights and measures and consistency matters far more than what unit you’re actually using. – The point is, the US
system has always been a little more accessible than metric. Sure, stacking up 12 thumb
widths to make a foot that’s still kind of weird but it’s not so weird that
we’re clambering to change it. Reason number two: Americans
can’t be bothered to switch. Adopting the metric
system is something that a majority of Americans
would have to get behind. There’d need to be a popular movement and very recently, one man
tried to make that happen. (“Yankee Doodle”) We took a trip to Rhode Island
to talk to Lincoln Chafee. He’s a former senator,
Rhode Island governor, and presidential candidate in 2016. And he had a grand vision
for taking the US metric. – I think America should
be behaving a little more along with the other civilized countries and it just makes sense when
our two closest countries, Mexico and Canada, both have metric so it’s an international,
forward-looking way of where America’s going
is how I got interested in promoting the metric system. – [Cory] Lincoln ran on his Prosperity through Peace platform which focused less on military spending, and more on infrastructure, education, and generally making friends
with other countries. But he tacked one extra
point onto his platform that seemed pretty fated to backfire. – Earlier, I said let’s be bold. Here is a bold embrace
of internationalism. Let’s join the rest of
the world and go metric. I just kept saying Stephanie was right and my wife was right. Never should have brought it up. I remember exactly when I
was reading over the speech right near where we’re sitting right now and she said don’t put
the metric in there. It’s gonna be misinterpreted. But I wanted to test. Can America, can we have a conversation about some controversial things? – [Cory] Unfortunately for Lincoln, his test was pretty conclusive. – Cafee said an important
part of his platform is getting the US to finally
adopt the metric system. – [Narrator] Lincoln Cafee, he’ll be out of this race in .2 nanoseconds. – [Reporter] Lincoln Chafee’s
odds of getting the US to finally embrace the metric system are probably about as low
as Lincoln Chafee’s odds of getting to be the next
president of the United States – But my wife was right. It was totally
misinterpreted and ridiculed and mocked and nobody ever asked about any of the other issues. – [Cory] Lincoln withdrew
from the race in 2015. – I have decided to end my
campaign for the president today. – [Cory] And with him went any hope of conversation around metric. Though Lincoln still holds out hope. – Ultimately, people have
an affection for America and it’s still there and
we should be building on it instead of driving a
wedge into our differences with countries around the world and metrics is part of it. It’s a good symbolic part of it. – The moral of the story,
don’t hold your breath for a metric uprising in America. – Almost every nation on Earth has fallen under the yoke of
tyranny, the metric system. – But for what it’s worth, we might actually be in the middle of a much sneakier metric takeover. Reason number three: The US
is secretly already metric. The US may not be officially metric, but meters and kilograms
have found their niches. First, US scientists do not
mess around with US measures. – Metric was designed by
scientists and who primarily you know they were annoyed
about inconsistencies within the systems they
were currently using. – [Cory] The metric system
uses standard, consistent prefixes based on powers of ten. So if you know your prefixes,
you can measure a lot or a little of anything
using one base unit. – Whether you are doing
very precise measurements in chemistry or you’re looking
at astronomical differences that’s where metric is useful because you if you wanna move the unit you just, you know,
move the decimal point. – Industry is largely on
board with metric, as well. In 1988, Congress passed a bill which required federal agencies
to use metric measurements. Another bill in 1992, required
businesses to use metric for consumer goods, too. Ever wonder why your soda can lists both ounces and milliliters? And last but not least,
imperial units are now technically based on metric definitions. An inch is defined as 25.4 millimeters and a pound is .45359237 kilograms. Metric really is everywhere. – You’ve got the scientific standards at the heart of the scientific community. You’ve got the companies, they’re metric and you might have as we do in the UK, certain examples where
other units are used in day-to-day life but where
it counts, America is metric. – There you have it. The US is one big measurement gray area. We haven’t officially switched to metric but we haven’t shunned it either. It’s a compromise between
science and industry which benefit from metric, citizens who feel no reason to change – Kilograms – And a government that’s
trying to keep everyone happy. – Ultimately, there’s
only one way that James thinks this story ends. – As you know, the US is already metric essentially it just has
this facade of measures. The thing to do is just
to wait for that facade to slowly crumble away and
that will happen with time. – When that change happens,
you can be sure that we at Verge Science will
accept it with open arms. Until then, please be patient
with us in the comments and don’t forget to like
and subscribe, thanks.

100 thoughts on “The real reasons the US refuses to go metric

  1. US uses metric but they decide to print and write Imperial nonsense. All their standards are based on metric, the weights in vaults are metric etc. Purposefully doing conversions from metric for archaic reasons. I think even Tesla uses metric, as in all the bolts on those cars are metric. etc. It's not so hard to switch when majority is using metric and all your measurements/units are defined from metric ones.

  2. So they prefer a system used by old coalminers underground with poor light , thumbs , spread of fingers ,pacing and nose to outstretched hands.

  3. Bah! Americans won't go metric because we distrust Europe and its totalitarian tendencies. Look what they've done to Britain! Besides, who wants to go into a sub shop and ask for a "30.48-centimeter-long" — ? Or have a cop pull him over for doing 145.2 kph in an 88.7 zone? Away with it, I say!

  4. American vices are measured in metric, that's why.
    Guns are measured in millimetres
    Heroine and other narcotics are sold in grams

  5. We have been using the system since 1776 and it would take too much money to switch to the metric system we have a huge population and it would be complicated and would possibly take about 2 or 3 years possibly more

  6. Graphic designer, West coast. We went metric a long time ago. We'll use Imperial measure if a client requests it.

  7. You wanna be confused eh? The Philippines use both Metric (Officially) and Imperial (unofficially). For example, when measuring human height and weight, we use Imperial, however, when measuring food, particularly, meat products, we measure those by metric, we also measure liquid by both systems, i.e. 5 gallons of water vs 2 litres of Soda.

  8. The US actually exists a parallel universe. Everything seems to be normal at first glance but after close examination you'll notice little things like numbers, climate concepts and government policies are all slightly out of phase.

  9. 1 km = 1000 m
    1m = 100 cm
    1cm = 10 mm
    Versus
    1 Ml = 1760 yr
    1 yr = 3 ft
    1 ft = 12 in
    12 in = no lower unit other than dividing it

  10. Yes ok um automatically assume a shoe is 30 cm great
    Idea because obviously every one has the same shoe size

  11. If the imperial system is so great why does no one else use it? Like 100 cm = 1m, 1,000m = 1km, water freezes at 0* C and what? 12 inches in a foot? Does everyone have the same sized feet and fingers and how many feet in a mile? It makes no seeennsseeee

  12. "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it."

  13. This is MERICA!! We hold on to our racism AND imperial measurements! You'll need to take our feet and miles out of our cold, dead hands!!

  14. Yeah well, the whole world used to use the imperial system until Napoleon came along. But that doesn't mean the imperial system is good.

  15. How about because it would be impossible to change every speed limit sign in the us, and the only way the metric system has any benefits is through science

  16. I heard that the American Imperial system comes from the Egytians. Is that true? I want feedback please, I want to know

  17. I mean they've already properly taught us about the metric system. Honestly it would take a lot for us to completely switch over. Too easy to keep our system

    The average American that doesnt work in the science, medical or math fields simply do not have a use for it all. It doesnt make my life easier, nothing has cleared up now that I know how to use the metric system. Why change our ease of life because it's not something that an outsider is knowledgeable about.

  18. In my experience, many of the people I know are familiar of the metric system. Since the majority of the world uses it, we have to understand it to some degree.

  19. Yeah cause everyone's foot is the same size.
    Like how many meters in a kilometer? 1000, easy.
    How many feet in a mile? 5280, so fucking confusing

  20. And here is why fox news should not be taken seriously… Like ffs tucker carlson, do you really defend everything american?

  21. Well it better though, since Swedish have mile but it isn't 1 mile in km = 1,609344 km but it equal of 10 km. It really confused me at first but now it's much better just multiplying it with 10 and you get km. Talked about measurement it the same but didn't follow International rules, or at least that I used to, my friend told me that I will get used to it with times.

  22. Honestly – I use both systems and they both have benefits

    I use imperial when accuracy to the mm is less important and always use metric for more detailed work – interesting to hear in your video that metric was created by scientists.

  23. I prefer metric with automotive work, imperial with wood/craftwork, in between for cooking or baking, and metric in the gym because its easier to add.

  24. Imperial system is the best! The decimal system is the same thing. Europe should convert to imperial and just stop the madness!

  25. You forgot about price, someone needs to pay to get every scale, and every sign, and every other weird thing you can think of.

  26. I like using centimeters but meters are just too big and I also don’t use yards kilometers and miles I don’t really care but it’s weird cuz mph just seem better oh and honestly Fahrenheit is a clusterhyuck but I don’t really care

  27. Uh, no. If even a science channel wouldn't dare to start the trend, then the facade would never crumble away. The only way for people to get used to new measurements is by exposure.

  28. I am still wondering why the huge loss by NASA due to unit conversion was not mentioned here !!
    "NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a Lockheed Martin engineering team used English units of measurement while the agency's team used the more conventional metric system for a key spacecraft operation"-Cnn
    so basically 125 million reasons to change to metric !!

  29. In canada its impmetric like I measure my self In feet and pounds i dont get ounces and but use inches i hate centimeters and meters but like millilitres and litres but i also like km/h not school shooters per McDonald's

  30. Actually people in the US don't refuse to switch. It's just hard to switch when not everybody is doing it. Why should I practice using metric when my grocery store weighs groceries in lbs? It's primarily convenience

  31. ein Google Name kann exakt ganze 100 Zeichen lang seien Wie soll man das denn ohne Satzeichen Füllen says:

    1. Is just wrong. If you used to it all systems are natural.
    2. Literally the only reason for it.
    3. An expeption is not a reason.

  32. Unifying units is the reason that since is universal the reason that US don't wanna use metric because they simply don't care about the rest of the world

  33. Even if wanted to. The national cost to swap signs out. Car manufacturing etc would make it create so much backlash on government taxes to pay for project

  34. Everytime i watch youtube channel that measures with miles, foot, inches i just dont want to bother to measure anymore lmao

  35. I would say that if this is a science channel, then it should stick with metric system. Or at least, place metric system on screen wheen using imperial

  36. But Americans dont even use the standard imperial system – US gal, US ton etc – that is because they think the world revolves around them – about time they got with the program – a selfish backward looking country

  37. The point is not what kind of notations are on the coke can. The point is that when I speak of the height of 2 meters, most Americans won't know if that's closer to a person or a giraffe. And I'm not seeing that changing in the slightest, no matter what they decide to print on consumer foods.

  38. The US doesn't even use proper Imperial. Eg 1 US pint = 473ml. 1 imperial pint = 568ml.
    1 US gallon = 3.78L. 1 imperial gallon = 4.54L.
    Way to make things more confusing America! First you stop spelling words correctly and now this?

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