1500

rating

12

debates

50.0%

won

Topic

#5457
# The Imperial System is Inferior to the Metric System

Status

Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics

After 2 votes and with 8 points ahead, the winner is...

Casey_Risk

Parameters

- Publication date
- Last updated date
- Type
- Standard
- Number of rounds
- 5
- Time for argument
- One week
- Max argument characters
- 10,000
- Voting period
- One month
- Point system
- Multiple criterions
- Voting system
- Open

1500

rating

3

debates

66.67%

won

Description

Is the metric system better than the Imperial System? American patriotism says no, but basic logic and reason says yes. Let's talk about that.

Round 1

**The Metric System**

First, we have the unit for length. The unit for length is defined as a ten millionth of the distance from the equator to either of the poles. This unit of length is called the meter, and if you traveled from the equator to either of the poles, you would have traveled ten million meters. And since the distance from the equator to either of the poles is a fourth of the earth's circumference, that means that the earth's circumference is forty million meters.

From there, we can use this unit of length to define a unit for volume. Simply make a cubic area where each side-length is a tenth of a meter, and you have the unit that is known as the liter.

From there, we can use this unit of volume to define a unit for weight (not the same as mass). Take one liter of volume, and fill it with water. The weight of one liter of water is the unit that is known as a kilogram.

Now that we have our units, we might consider creating prefixes for describing quantities. Rather than referring to "one tenth of a meter," or "seven billionths of a meter," you could simply put a prefix in front of the word, and it will describe how much of the original unit that quantity represents. Here are the prefixes, and the quantities they represent:

Quecto = nonillionth

Ronto = octillionth

Yocto = septillionth

Zepto = sextillionth

Atto = quintillionth

Femto = quadrillionth

Pico = trillionth

Nano = billionth

Micro = millionth

Milli = thousandth

Centi = hundredth

Deci = tenth

Deca = ten

Hecto = hundred

Kilo = thousand

Mega = million

Giga = billion

Tera = trillion

Peta = quadrillion

Exa = quintillion

Zetta = sextillion

Yotta = septillion

Ronna = octillion

Quetta = nonillion

So, a tenth of a meter is really just a decimeter, which defines a liter as one cubic decimeter. We can therefore realize that a kilogram is actually one thousand grams. So, one gram would be one cubic centimeter of water. Kilometers are the most standard way to measure large distances within the metric system. As you can see, this system is logical, and it's easy, because calculations are now just a matter of moving the decimal point. It's also based on things that make perfect sense, so it all comes together.

**The Imperial System**

The advantage of the Imperial System is that you technically don't need a ruler, you can just use your body. The foot is a unit of length equal to 0.3048 meters, and is approximately the length of the average man's foot. Make no mistake, it is not the measurement that is not precise, it's the size of the average man's foot that's not precise. But this does mean that if you're just getting approximate values, you can use your feet to measure to a decently close degree of precision how many feet long something is. Of course, that only works if you are an average sized adult male, which means that people who don't have an average build, or women, or kids, might have a harder time getting a precise answer.

The inch is one twelfth of a foot, and is equal to two things: 1. the length of the average man's thumb. 2. three grains of barley laid end to end. So, alternatively, instead of using your feet to measure things, you could also use your thumbs to measure things.

Despite all of these things, people will still use precise rulers to measure things in Imperial measurements, because again, it's only a certain type of person that will be able to easily use their body to measure things. It's only good for approximate values, not precise ones. If you want precise values, you're going to have to use rulers, which beat the entire purpose of the Imperial System. Not to mention, converting between units is a nightmare.

Up until now, I've been talking about units within the Imperial System that can be approximately measured using your own body. But the mile is not. The mile is the way the Imperial System measures large distances. It is the Imperial System's equivalent to kilometers. And a mile is defined as 5,280 feet. WHAT??? What kind of random and specific number is that? Sure, the ancient people have their reasons, but we are not the ancient people, and we shouldn't have to deal with these kinds of numbers.

Their unit for weight is defined as the weight of seven thousand grains, and that is called the pound. Again, where are they getting these numbers? And why grains? What grains are we talking about? Grains are not one entity, and they can be variable in size.

The ounce is any of several different units of mass, weight, or volume. So, there are multiple units called the ounce!

Their unit for volume is the pint, but eight pints can make a gallon. Why can't it just be ten?

As you can see, the Imperial System gets rather messy and random. A foot is 12 inches, and a mile is 5,280 feet, and a mile is also 63,360 inches. You know how many meters there are in a kilometer? It's in the name, it's 1,000. And you know how many centimeters there are in a meter? Again, it's in the name, it's 100. It's all tens, which makes calculations really easy to do, and it's just generally very easy to comprehend. But the Imperial System has so many random, specific, and out of line numbers that require calculators, or intense amounts of math in general. It's confusing, and it's illogical. We live in a day and age where we don't have to use our bodies to measure things, because we have invented very precise, and very accurate systems of measurement, so that things can be precise. The Imperial System is simply inferior because of this, and it no longer needs to exist. The metric system is clearly much easier to calculate, and it's more logical in nature. It's a great system, and things work together in unison.

**Conclusion**

The metric system is

*kilometers*ahead of the Imperial System. It's simple, it's logical, and it's easy. The Imperial System is not. The Imperial System is inferior to the metric system in many ways, as I have shown you above.Thank you, Pro. This will be a devil's advocate debate for me.

**Definitions**

As Pro has neglected to precisely define the key terms in this debate, I will do so here.

Imperial system:

1. The system of units of measurement first developed in England and defined under British law

2. The substantially similar descendent system used in the United States of America

I include this second definition because it is clear my opponent makes reference chiefly to the American customary system of measurements. Technically speaking, this system is called just that, the American customary system, but it is often referred to as the imperial system due to being directly descended from it. Really, there's not many differences between the two, mostly just some obscure units. Thus, except where I make a distinction between the two systems, the terms "imperial system" and "imperial units" may be considered synonymous with "US customary system" and "US customary units". Since that is how my opponent has been using these terms, I trust they will find this acceptable.

Metric system: A decimal-based system of measurements first invented in 1795

International System of Units (SI): A system of seven units that forms the modern basis of the metric system

**Interpreting the Resolution and the Burden of Proof**

As Pro, my opponent has the primary burden of proof to show that the imperial system is inferior to the metric one. They have neglected to clearly state in the description of this debate an exact standard by which the two should be judged, ultimately leaving it up to opinion. As Con, I have no need to prove that the imperial system is superior. I only have to try and undermine Pro's argument and show how they have not met their burden of proof.

In his opening argument, my opponent makes two main arguments: the first is that the metric system is based on unchanging aspects of our world, while the imperial system isn't. The second is that the metric system is optimized for decimal notation, making it simpler than the imperial system. I will be responding to these one by one.

**Defining Units**

My opponent seems to be lacking in some core knowledge on this topic, and that is demonstrated right at the very beginning of their opening argument.

First, we have the unit for length. The unit for length is defined as a ten millionth of the distance from the equator to either of the poles.

This is not correct. My opponent is using a definition of the meter which has long been outdated. In the modern day, the metric system is based on the International System of Units, abbreviated SI, from the French

*Système international d'unités.*Under the SI system, the meter is based on the speed of light in a vacuum, which is defined to be 299,792,458 meters per second. This means that the meter is also implicitly based on the Cesium standard, which defines the second.My opponent also incorrectly defines the kilogram, which he says is the weight of a liter of water. In fact, today the kilogram is based on the Planck constant, which is defined to be 6.62607015×10^(−34) J⋅s. A joule is defined as a kg⋅m^2/s^2, so if you have a definition for the meter and the second, you have a definition for the kilogram, which is a unit of mass, not weight.

So, why am I bringing this up? This seems to hurt my case, right? Well, no. Because my opponent is also ill-informed about how the imperial system is currently defined, stating:

The inch is one twelfth of a foot, and is equal to two things: 1. the length of the average man's thumb. 2. three grains of barley laid end to end. So, alternatively, instead of using your feet to measure things, you could also use your thumbs to measure things.

While it is true that those units do ultimately trace their origins to those things, that's not how they have been officially defined for centuries. As far back as 1824 in the UK, the yard was based on a physical standard.(1) Until 2019, the kilogram was also based on a physical standard.(2) For a time prior to 1960, even the meter was defined based on a standard.

In the modern day, however, the imperial units are defined based on metric units, and the metric units are based on the SI units, a set of seven distinct units all derived from universal constants and natural laws. Thus,

__. This has been true since at least 1959, when an international agreement defined the English yard and pound in terms of the metric meter and kilogram, respectively. (3)(pdf). Beyond that, converting from Celsius to Fahrenheit is a simple matter - multiply by 1.8 and add 32. Mass, length, and temperature are the areas where the imperial and metric systems differ. Everything else is derived.__**the imperial units are also implicitly based on these natural constants**I should also note a pretty blatant flaw in my opponent's argument. He says:

Despite all of these things, people will still use precise rulers to measure things in Imperial measurements, because again, it's only a certain type of person that will be able to easily use their body to measure things. It's only good for approximate values, not precise ones. If you want precise values, you're going to have to use rulers, which beat the entire purpose of the Imperial System. Not to mention, converting between units is a nightmare.

The logical problem with this argument is obvious. If you didn't already know roughly how long a meter is, would you be able to accurately judge the length of something based on units of measurement equal to a ten millionth of the distance from Earth's equator to either of its poles? No, of course not, that's ridiculous. You need some sort of measuring instrument. Under the imperial system, you also need an instrument to be precise, but you can also use body parts to estimate. My opponent has already conceded that the imperial system has a distinct advantage! But I'm running out of characters, so I need to move on.

**The Decimal System**

My opponent argues that the metric system is based on the decimal number system, which makes conversion simpler. This is true. However, while this simplicity is the greatest advantage of the metric system, it is also its biggest downside. Let me explain.

The metric system takes the base-10 number system (the decimal system) for granted. This is understandable, given its history and how essentially all European languages are base-10 when it comes to numbers. (I'm unaware of any exceptions, but ironically, French comes close as it has the remnants of a base-20 system, which is why 90 in French is 'four-twenties-ten.') However, its insistence on using only powers of ten to define any sort of unit other than a base unit means that the metric system effectively only has

*one*unit for each field of measurement. There is no difference between saying 'a kilometer' and 'a thousand meters'. 'A milliliter' and 'a thousandth of a liter' are exactly synonymous. If you speak a language with a decimal number system, the metric system effectively gives you only one unit for each thing it measures.This is certainly simple, but being simpler isn't always better. Astronomers measure truly mind-boggling, incomprehensibly large distances. Given that astronomy is a field of science, you might expect to see lots of mentions of megameters, gigameters, terameters, and so forth, but astronomers tend to use other units such as the AU, parsec, solar radius, and light year. None of these are defined as some power of ten times a meter. Further, even when astronomers do use meters to measure such long distances, they often tend to use scientific notation rather than the prefixed units.

This demonstrates two things at once: first, that defining everything in terms of one unit is not always desirable - otherwise, modern science wouldn't be using those alternate astronomic units of length. Second, all those metric prefixes my opponent listed in full don't actually add any value that scientific notation doesn't already give us.

The imperial system recognizes the value that using different units can provide, which my opponent fails to do, stating:

[A] mile is defined as 5,280 feet. WHAT??? What kind of random and specific number is that? Sure, the ancient people have their reasons, but we are not the ancient people, and we shouldn't have to deal with these kinds of numbers.

The English mile was based on the Roman mile, which was defined to be 1,000 paces (a power of ten!). Later, it was defined in terms of the English yard so that it could be precisely defined. There is some good sense to this, as it is much easier to accurately judge a long distance in terms of paces than human feet or thumbs. Sure, converting from feet to miles or vice-versa might not be easy to do in your head, but how often is it actually

*necessary*? The distances that tend to be measured in miles are rarely well-represented in feet. If I say the distance from New York to Chicago is roughly 711 miles, are you going to complain that you can't figure out in five seconds that that's 3,754,080 feet? No, because why would you measure that distance in feet? The metric system, however, does require you to state that the distance is about 1.144 million meters. It just allows you to say 1,144 km for short.Further, a foot is 12 inches for a good reason. 12 is an 'antiprime' number, a natural number with more divisors than any smaller natural number. So, a third of a foot is 0.3333.... feet, but you can convert to inches and just write 4 inches. The decimal terminates when you convert the units. This is impossible under the metric system.

Further, any advantage given by metric being based on base-10 also evaporates if one is using a different number system entirely. Not everyone uses such a system. The Ndom language spoken on Papua New Guinea has a base-6 (aka senary) number system.(4) Under base-6, a kilometer is 4,344 meters. Hardly convenient or easy!

I have more to say but I'm out of space. My opponent now has the floor.

Round 2

Thank you, Con.

I can't think of any refutations to your definitions, so I will use them also.

It is true that I do have the burden of proof in trying to prove that the Imperial System is inferior to the metric system. However, if you're arguing against me, then you have to show that the Imperial System is

*not*inferior to the metric system. Therefore, you have to show that the Imperial System is better than the metric system. Or, I suppose, you could just try and discredit the logical integrity of my arguments.I must clarify that when I was defining the magnitude of each unit within the systems of measurement and what they represented, I was explaining what their original definition was. We simply changed the definitions, but kept the units exactly the same (except for a bit recently when they changed the kilogram, and apparently some others). As far as I'm aware, they never did that with the Imperial System though, and so the magnitude of the units have remained the same. It's just their modern definitions that are different.

And, yeah, if you were not able to accurately estimate how long a meter is, you would not be able to simply take the distance from the equator to either of the poles, divide that by ten million, and use that as a standard. But the point I was trying to make was that if you've ever gone to measure something in your house using Imperial units, how often do you use your feet and thumbs? And how often do you use your ruler or tape measure? Because most people have a tape measure/ruler in their house, and people in America will use its Imperial units. When construction workers are working on the blueprints for a house, if they're in America, they will make it in Imperial units. They definitely did not use their feet and thumbs to approximately measure, because that's not at all how the world works anymore, or basically at any time (the ancient people were smarter than we all thought). And so, they simply use tape measures, rulers, and other tools that are built with exact measurements to make sure that their measurements are exact, which they could have done just as easily using a metric tape measure, had America not been calibrated on the Imperial System, which is irrelevant to the logical integrity of said system. Sure, you can use your body to measure in the Imperial System, but that's about it. That's the only advantage the Imperial System has, which means that if you were measuring using an exact tape measure and not your body, you have no reason to use the Imperial units outside of being calibrated on the Imperial system, which again is irrelevant to its logical integrity. Because if you're using a tape measure, you could have just as easily used it in metric units, which would have made further calculations much easier to perform.

Currently, almost the entire human race uses the base-10 system, so much so that the average person (including myself until I read your argument), has no idea that anyone else uses anything differently. It's so ingrained in our heads now that it never occurs to us that using any other base system would work just as well for calculations, but we chose base-10 because we have ten fingers. The point is, even though there might be some random obscure places and numbering systems that are not the same as ours, it remains to be such an immense majority of the world population that uses the base-10 numbering system that it's almost international. It's certainly something that could never ever occur to someone that they would be just fine using a different system.

But also, let's say that I go to Papua New Guinea and start using the metric system. If I introduced them to the metric system, what could be done, (and if understood, it might not be that hard to convert between), is define the prefix "deca" as five instead of ten, define "hecto" as 25 (which is their hundred), define "kilo" as 125 (which is their thousand), and so on. It wouldn't be hard at all to simply redefine these prefixes for their system. So, this system is variable to any base system you want, and is not solely fixed. All you need are the base units, and what are variable are the meaning of the prefixes, which are going to be calibrated onto whatever system you use. Whichever one you use, it can work! It doesn't matter if you use base-6, or base-10, or base-12, or even base-60, it can work! So no, the metric system does not fall apart when the system changes, though yes, it could cause complications for converting between base-6 metric and base-10 metric, but that's not much of a problem anyway, because base-10 is almost completely international.

We live in a modern world now where approximate values of regular human activities aren't very good definers of units of measurement, which is why 1,000 paces isn't that great of a basis for a unit of measurement in today's modern world. We don't even use paces anymore, we're stuck with feet I guess.

And, if I wanted to know what a 749th of a kilometer is, I know how many meters that is: 749m. Very simple.

And yeah, astronomers are going to use astronomical units and parsecs and solar radii, but ain't nobody is measuring in units equal to the distance from the earth to the sun here on earth. Astronomers have their own units, but that's just for astronomy, not for pretty much everything else.

And, wouldn't you rather say a kilometer instead of saying one thousand meters, or even worse, saying 10^3 meters? Why must I have to say "2.2 x 10^23 meters" when I could just say "2.2 yoctometers." That's much easier to say, and rolls off the tongue better (not completely, but just better).

If I wanted to convert from feet to inches, I would need to multiply feet by 12. If I wanted to convert feet to miles, I would need to divide by 5,280. If wanted to convert gallons to pints, I would need to multiply by 8.

If I wanted to convert from meters to centimeters, I would need to divide by 100. If I wanted to convert meters to kilometers, I would need to divide by 1,000. If I wanted to convert liters to centiliters, I would need to divide by 100. Just look at all those flat, clean, base-aligned numbers.

And as I stated earlier, no, the metric system is not entirely calibrated on base-10. All that's stopping us from converting to base-6 is the definition of the prefixes, which can easily be calibrated on a different numbering system, and you'll be good. In which case, if I wanted to convert from meters to centimeters, I would need to divide by 25 (which, while it seems random in base-10, it is just as logical as my previous demonstration of the metric system when used in base-6, which is the point I'm making here). If I wanted to convert meters to kilometers, I would need to divide by 125. If I wanted to convert liters to centiliters, I would need to divide by 25. But again, all of these numbers may seem random in base-10, but they made perfect sense and are just as easy as our metric system when used in base-6. And so, if you were to simply change the definitions of the prefixes, you'd be good! Also, I may have gotten my calculations wrong, my head was spinning trying to figure out how to translate base-10 numbers into base-6, and then show how much their number is in base-10 numbers, but you get the idea.

**Conclusion**

It still stands that the metric system is way more logical and way more easy than the Imperial system when running calculations. And, it can be converted into different counting systems simply by changing the definitions of the prefixes to align with their system. And so, they can be converted, and rather easily so! When I convert from one metric unit to another metric unit, I don't have to use a calculator, I just move the decimal point. Easy!

Thank you, Pro.

**Defining the Units**

Pro starts off his rebuttals by making this statement:

I must clarify that when I was defining the magnitude of each unit within the systems of measurement and what they represented, I was explaining what their original definition was. We simply changed the definitions, but kept the units exactly the same (except for a bit recently when they changed the kilogram, and apparently some others). As far as I'm aware, they never did that with the Imperial System though, and so the magnitude of the units have remained the same. It's just their modern definitions that are different.

The problem with this is that it shows that Pro didn't really understand the full point I was making in the first place. As science has progressed and humans have become able to measure things more and more precisely, it has become necessary that our definitions for our units of measurement are up to snuff - that is, that they are also defined very precisely. That's why the definitions of the basic metric units have been updated over time. The imperial units are also defined more precisely today than in the past. Today, the yard, pound, and degree Fahrenheit are defined using the corresponding metric units. Thus, the imperial system is implicitly defined based on fundamental, unchanging aspects of our universe just as the metric system is. Voters should note that my opponent has accepted my definitions and done nothing to refute this fact.

Pro also spends a paragraph in their first section basically just restating one of my own arguments, but in a much wordier fashion, rambling on about tape measures and whatnot. The point I was making is that precise measurements require actual calibrated measuring instruments, and this is true under literally

*any system of measurement*. It's*inherently*true. However, the imperial system also allows you to make approximations using your own body, but the metric system does not. Nothing my opponent has said contradicts this basic point.Recapping this section, Pro has tacitly conceded my point that the imperial units are implicitly based on universal constants, just like the metric units, neutering (perhaps unwittingly) one of his two core arguments, while conceding one of my own points!

**Base-10? Base ten WHAT?**

My opponent misunderstands the idea of number bases and tries to redefine the metric system on the fly:

If I introduced [Papua New Guineans] to the metric system, what could be done. . . is define the prefix "deca" as five instead of ten, define "hecto" as 25 (which is their hundred), define "kilo" as 125 (which is their thousand), and so on.

First of all, that would be a solution for a base-5 system specifically, not base-6 like I mentioned. Second, and more importantly,

*The metric prefixes come from Greek and Latin roots referring to powers of 10. By redefining these prefixes, my opponent is creating a new system entirely! By admitting that it is necessary to create a new system for metric to be practical for speakers of languages that don't use the decimal system, my opponent is effectively conceding my own point.***that is not the metric system.**These alternate systems also aren't necessarily as rare as you might think. Many New Guinean and Australian Aboriginal languages use number systems other than base-10.(5) Papua New Guinea in particular is very underdeveloped. Officially, it does use the metric system, but as it continues to grow and develop, this will inevitably cause problems for speakers of its many languages with different number systems. The metric system is meant to be international, but its poor compatibility with these languages hinders its ability to reach that goal.

Note, however, that conversion factors in the imperial system are mostly based on 2's and 3's, and small multiples of those numbers. A yard is three feet, and a foot is twelve inches. 3 is a factor of 6, and 12 is a multiple of 6. This makes the imperial system much better-suited to a base-6 language like Ndom, despite being a customary system not necessarily intended to be international.

**Arbitrary vs Arbitrary**

The rest of my opponent's R2 arguments are in response to my core argument that the metric system effectively has only one unit for each thing that it measures, which is actually a major drawback. In his rebuttals, my opponent shows that he has understood the

*words*that I have written, but not the*substance*of my arguments. For instance, Pro writes:We live in a modern world now where approximate values of regular human activities aren't very good definers of units of measurement, which is why 1,000 paces isn't that great of a basis for a unit of measurement in today's modern world.

This is in spite of the fact that I already made it clear that today, the English mile is not defined based on an arbitrary unit like a pace. It is precisely 1,760 yards, and a yard is precisely 0.9144 meters, and a meter is precisely one 299,792,458th the distance traveled by a photon of light in a vacuum over a time period equal to 919,2631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the Caesium-133 atom.(6)

More to the point, the point that I was trying to make is that, rather than defining a unit of length meant to measure long distances as just some random number of feet or yards, it was defined based on something much more practical - a particular long distance that one could imagine walking. Granted, the ultimate basis of the imperial units is still arbitrary, but here's the thing:

*Sure, basing your system of measurements on a quarter of the Earth's circumference may seem more "science-y", so to speak, but it's not really any more or less arbitrary than basing it on human feet or anything else. It also results in a system that's not very anthropocentric. Most adult humans are much taller than one meter, but a fair bit shorter than two meters. The imperial system, on the other hand, was made for the sorts of things that humans like to measure, and that's why it focuses on divisibility more.***the same is true of the metric system.****Time to Explain**

There are 60 seconds in every minute, 60 minutes in every hour, and 24 hours in every day. These numbers may seem strange and arbitrary, and to an extent they are, but they were tailor-made to fit the solar day as we experience it on Earth. 60 is another 'antiprime' number, a number with more factors than any smaller positive integer. You can divide an hour into halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, 10ths, 12ths, 20ths, and even 30ths, allowing you to express all those fractions as a whole number of minutes! The exact same can be done when dividing minutes into seconds. 24 is another antiprime. Aside from itself and one, it can also be divided by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12.

We can easily imagine a system wherein a minute is 10 or 100 seconds, and an hour is 10 or 100 minutes, and perhaps even define a day like so. But, would such a system actually be better? Would most people want to switch over to such a system? I believe the answer to both questions is no, for a simple reason: Our definition of time is made to be easily divisible into fractions and fits our Earth day well.

The imperial system works similarly. It's a system that has been slowly developed over the centuries and is tailor-made to fit the needs of its users. Voters should note that my opponent has made no effort to refute my argument about divisibility in R1:

Further, a foot is 12 inches for a good reason. 12 is an 'antiprime' number, a natural number with more divisors than any smaller natural number. So, a third of a foot is 0.3333.... feet, but you can convert to inches and just write 4 inches. The decimal terminates when you convert the units. This is impossible under the metric system.

To be sure, there is a bit of a trade-off between having conversion factors that are highly composite and having conversion factors that make mental math easier. The imperial system focuses on the former, while the metric system prioritizes the latter. However, I would argue that the former is actually more important. After all, humans invented systems of measurement specifically so that they could do math with them and describe things precisely. If you are measuring, you are doing math. Maybe it is slightly easier to multiply by 10 than by 3, but does that make a system that focuses entirely on 10 inherently, innately

*superior*? My opponent seems to think so, but he doesn't provide a justification for this belief. I believe that focusing on divisible units is more important, as it allows you to create a system with different units that are tailored to different purposes, and still express a fraction of one unit as a whole number of a different unit. This is very useful when it comes to measuring things!The English inch, foot, and yard are a great example of units that are clearly aimed at measuring length at different magnitudes, but are also easily divisible in a way that meter-based units are not. The relationship between cups, pints, quarts, half-gallons, and gallons is another good example - each unit is twice the volume of the previous one. This makes the larger units of volume very divisible!

**Conclusion**

My opponent, in agreeing to my definitions, has effectively conceded his point about the metric system being based on the natural world - one of his two core arguments. He also misunderstands many of my points, tries to unfairly redefine the metric system to get around a weak point, and fails to address at all my core argument that the imperial system provides easily divisible units in a way that the metric system doesn't. This undermines one of his main arguments in favor of the metric system. With one main point neutered and the other severely weakened by my unaddressed arguments, Pro has not yet fulfilled their burden of proof.

I now yield the floor.

Round 3

I understand fully that both the metric system AND the Imperial System are precise. That is not the problem. The problem is how arbitrary and random the numbers are. The metric system works in tens, but can also work in any base you want. Sure, the definition of the prefixes can be changed, but the definitions of the lengths the prefixes are being acted upon will not. The meter is still the same, it's only the definition of "kilo" that

*can*be changed, though it's not regularly done that way. A kilometer is a thousand meters, but a mile is 5,280 feet. These numbers are precise, and maybe even based on constants nowadays, but they are more difficult to calculate with, and are pretty random for today's numbers.And, I already stated that there aren't many scenarios where you can afford to measure approximately. If you use a tape measure to measure in Imperial units, you're not using the only advantage the Imperial System has! So there's no reason to measure precisely in Imperial units, because then you could just use a system that is much easier to calculate with.

And, your argument that the metric system only has one unit for each thing. Sure, the metric system doesn't have the megaparsec and the astronomical unit, but neither does the Imperial System, so I don't know why you thought it was a good idea to bring it up. Units in astronomy are an entirely different category separate from the metric system AND the Imperial System. Remember, you're arguing that the Imperial System is not inferior to the metric system, and neither of those have anything to do with the units astronomers use.

And, as for time, there actually isn't any metric/Imperial specific time, both America and most others use seconds, minutes, and hours, which is why I didn't even bring it up. I'm not sure why you decided to bring that up, because both systems use it.

And, even if the earth we live on is an arbitrary base for a measurement (which, it's the earth we live on, so it's not), the difference between the earth and a foot is that there have lived over a hundred million different feet, and they're all slightly/very different. It's not precise. Whereas the earth had always remained the same size, and there is only one earth, ever. It's unchanging, whereas two people's feet are different, and it's possible that your foot is a different size from your foot, as it has grown. So there is both literally and figuratively a massive difference.

**Conclusion**

Both systems are equally precise, because that's what we need, but for the Imperial System, the numbers are somewhat random and hard to use, as supposed to the metric system. You've brought up things that don't even matter to this conversation, and forgot that the definition of the prefixes aren't the definition of the metric measurements.

Thank you, Pro.

**A Lack of Substance**

In the short round of arguments Pro has provided, he has said little to substantially address my arguments and instead has mostly rehashed existing arguments which I have already responded to. For instance, my opponent continues to insist that the metric prefixes don't have to refer to powers of ten and can instead refer to anything we want them to. This is simply counterfactual. The prefix "kilo" comes from the Greek

*khilioi,*meaning "thousand".(7) "Centi" ultimately comes from the Latin "centum", meaning "one hundred".(8) I could go on, but the point is clear. Each metric prefix*only*refers to a power of ten. If they weren't always consistent, then there would be no way of knowing how long a kilometer even was without context, which makes for a poor system of measurement.Regarding the argument about approximations, I do not know why Pro continues to spend his time on this matter. Regardless of how much or how little an advantage it provides, it is clear that by allowing one to approximate length with one's own body, the imperial system has an advantage, which means it cannot be used by Pro to fulfill his burden of proof.

And yes, the bases of both the meter and the English foot/yard are ultimately arbitrary. There's no reason the meter has to be specifically one ten millionth of a quarter of Earth's diameter. It could be any other fraction of Earth's diameter, or unrelated to it at all. I'm not saying that arbitrary means bad. Any basis of a system of measurement is going to be somewhat arbitrary, unless perhaps if you base a system of measurement on the Planck length, but that is simply far too small to be practical. Arbitrariness is not bad.

On that note, my opponent continues to seemingly fundamentally misunderstand the difference between something being the basis of a system and being how that system is actually

*defined*. Yes, ultimately the origins of the foot as a unit of measurement do come from human feet, as the name suggests. However, that is not how the foot is defined, nor has it been defined that way for centuries, as I already proved in round 1. Today, the imperial units are defined precisely, something my opponent even acknowledges. However, they also have an anthropocentric basis, making them both anthropocentric and precisely defined units. Metric units are only precisely defined. The imperial system comes out ahead in this department.Lastly, I feel like the points I brought up in my section "Time to Explain" were pretty simple and easy to understand, while also being a core part of my arguments. My opponent has not meaningfully addressed any of them, so I extend all arguments from that section.

**Getting to the 'Point'**

The reason I brought up astronomical units was to show how using one unit as the basis for everything is not always desirable. I'll admit that I didn't illustrate that point in the best way possible, so I intend to expand on that in this section.

Consider the point -- the typographical point, defined as 1/72 of an inch, or one twelfth of a pica (which itself is 1/6 of an inch). It is one of the US customary units, making it under the scope of this debate. (See my R1 definitions which Pro has accepted). It may sound like a random unit of measurement, but I am almost positive that you, dear reader, are already familiar with it, whether you realize it or not. If you've ever used Microsoft Word and adjusted the size of a particular text, you have adjusted the

*point*size of that text. Word defaults to a 12-point font, but you can make it a larger 14-point, or even a tiny legal-disclaimer-size six point font if you like. The point has a narrow scope of usage, but it is very well-defined for that particular use.By contrast, under the metric system, the best thing to use for describing the size of a font would probably be the millimeter, but it is not as well-suited to the task. One point is 0.3528 mm, and 12 points (one pica) is 4.2336 mm. Granted, if the international standard was to use the millimeter, these could be simplified somewhat, but it would still be necessary to measure using fractions of a millimeter. The point is much more convenient for typographers to use, which is why it remains the international standard even in our predominantly metric world. Thus, it is proven that effectively using only one unit for each field of measurement is not ideal and can lead to undesirable situations. Do you see the point?

**Conclusion**

My opponent has continued to rehash old arguments while simultaneously failing to respond to new arguments that I have brought up. He has not yet met his burden of proof.

I now yield the floor.

Round 4

Forfeited

Very unfortunate to see that my opponent has neglected this debate and thus forfeited a round. I humbly ask voters to take this into account when scoring the 'Conduct' section of their votes.

I extend all previous arguments. I would also like to take a moment to recap the debate so far.

My opponent claims that the metric system is superior in part because of what the metric units are derived from. However, I have already shown that the imperial units are defined just as precisely as the metric units are today, something which my opponent has not been able to refute; in fact, he admitted that this is true in the previous round. My opponent's implication that the imperial system is arbitrary while the metric system is not is also false. Having a unit based on a quarter of the Earth's circumference is completely arbitrary. (I mistakenly said it was based on the Earth's diameter last round. Forgive me, as I was quite sleepy when I wrote that round of arguments. I used the correct terminology in round 2.) Also note how I pointed out that arbitrariness is not inherently bad, and that any system of measurement is going to have bases that are at least somewhat arbitrary.

My opponent argues that the metric system being based on the decimal number system makes it inherently superior to the imperial system. I have pointed out that not everyone uses decimal, and pointed out that in parts of the world such as Papua New Guinea, the existence of many non-decimal languages hinders the metric system's goal of internationality, while the imperial system arguably works better for speakers of these languages, despite not necessarily trying to be an international system.

My opponent's only rebuttal to this line of argument is that the metric prefixes don't necessarily refer to powers of ten, but could be used to refer to powers of any base. This is factually incorrect. At no point have any of the metric prefixes ever been used to refer to any number other than a power of ten.(9) If that were the case, my opponent would have mentioned this fact in his opening when he lists all the metric prefixes, but he didn't do so, because this 'fact' is wrong. And even if it were true, it would mean that there would be no way of knowing how long a kilometer even is without context or clarification, which makes for a poor system of measurement, I'm sure we can all agree.

Further I have pointed out that basing an entire system of measurement on decimal means that, in languages which use the decimal number system, the metric system effectively has only one unit of measurement for each thing it measures, be that length, volume, mass, etc. As I have already demonstrated with the existence of astronomic units and things like the typographic point, there are times where this is inconvenient and even a disadvantage. The imperial system has other units which have a narrow scope of usage, but are well-suited for that usage. Consider the barleycorn, briefly mentioned by Pro in his opening. It's seldom used directly today, but it is the basis of shoe sizes in the Anglophone world. Considering that the barleycorn is directly related to the foot (it's 1/36 of a foot specifically) and the foot is ultimately based on (though not defined by) the average adult foot size, this basis for shoe sizes hardly seems arbitrary to me. It certainly seems more intuitive than having it be ultimately related to Earth's circumference.

If voters agree that there is a distinct advantage to having multiple units that are designed to be used for specific purposes and are well-suited to those purposes, then voters must agree that the metric system is at a disadvantage in that regard.

Finally, I would like to note something my opponent said in Round 3 (emphasis mine):

And, as for time, there actually isn't any metric/Imperial specific time, both America and most others use seconds, minutes, and hours, which is why I didn't even bring it up. I'm not sure why you decided to bring that up,because both systems use it.

My opponent is not quite correct about that last part. The second is the metric unit of time, but the minute, hour, and day are

*metric units, as they can't be expressed as a number of seconds that is an integer power of ten.(6) Therefore, all time in the metric system has to be expressed in seconds. If voters can see the problem with this, then they can see another disadvantage of the metric system compared to the imperial one. This directly ties into my arguments from***not****Time to Explain**in round 2. Again, my opponent has not offered a refutation for the lines of argument I introduced in that section.Taken altogether, I think these three key arguments (the non-universality of decimal, the advantage of having multiple units, and the advantage of divisible units) prove that having the metric system be based on decimal and decimal alone does not inherently make it superior. Therefore, my opponent has thus far failed to fulfill his burden of proof. There is but one round left in this debate, so he shall have one last chance to do so. I now yield the floor to my opponent one last time.

Round 5

I didn't say that the metric prefixes usually are changed, I'm just saying that they can. Ideally, we'd all use the same base system, and we're almost to that stage, but not the entire world uses base-10. There is already a unit called the metric ton, so describing the base system wouldn't even be that time-consuming considering people are fine with saying "metric ton."

Anyways, the entire advantage of the Imperial System is being able to use your body, which is completely erased when you just use a ruler or a tape measure, as many often do. And if you wanted to measure with your feet, you better hope that your feet happen to be about a foot in length, because if not, you're not even going to be able to measure with it. Sure the Imperial System has units meant for specific uses, but some of those units aren't even consistent with say your foot size. You have to have a specific type of foot in order for that to even be practical, otherwise the unit is just unusable. The fact that your ability to measure practically with your body is determined either by chance, or by the possible health decisions you made in the past, makes for a narrow scope of people who can actually practically measure with their body, which is the main selling point of the Imperial System. If you're not the right size, then it's just another system of units that no longer serve any particular purpose compared to the metric system.

And, alright, maybe I just meant to say that most people in the world use seconds, minutes, hours, etc. The point is, I didn't bring it up because that's a whole different, virtually non-conflicting thing. Even people who use the metric system use seconds and minutes and hours, so I didn't bring it up and I still don't know why you did either.

Yes, I admitted that both systems are equally precise. But precision is not the same as logical basis. If I were to make a unit of measurement equal to 2,123,159th of the earth's circumference, versus a 40,000,000th of the earth's circumference, they are both just as exact and precise numbers, it's just that one seems like I just pulled it right out of my brain, and the other is a flat forty million. It's not about how precise the units are, though if you're talking about measuring with your feet, measuring with your feet is not that precise, my point was about how hard to work with the numbers in the Imperial System can be compared to the metric system.

Also, as I've already said, astronomical units are irrelevant to this conversation, because they aren't even apart of the metric system, or the Imperial System.

**"By contrast, under the metric system, the best thing to use for describing the size of a font would probably be the millimeter, but it is not as well-suited to the task. One point is 0.3528 mm, and 12 points (one pica) is 4.2336 mm. Granted, if the international standard was to use the millimeter, these could be simplified somewhat, but it would still be necessary to measure using fractions of a millimeter."**

You've just made the exact

*point*I've been trying to make about the Imperial System. The numbers in the Imperial System are messy, hard to work with, and yes, could be fractional. But your argument was that they're no less arbitrary than working with tens, considering other places use different base systems. After all, those fractional numbers could be non-fractional in another base system, so you either admit that these are in fact arbitrary and/or difficult to work with numbers which is not a very good thing, and therefore hold up my point about how hard the numbers within the Imperial System are to work with, or you can say that these numbers are no more arbitrary than easy tens, and state that the numbers within the Imperial System are no less arbitrary than the tens worked with in the metric system. Either way, you've just contradicted yourself in one way or another. This has been a major point of mine this whole time, and you've just upheld it by saying we should use the point instead of the millimeter,*because the numbers were easier for papers*, and yet ignored all of the times where the metric system's numbers were easier than the Imperial System's.I would like to once again thank my opponent for this debate. I saw that he had been debating this topic earlier with someone else, but the other person put little real effort in and ended up conceding before the debate was over. I wanted to give my opponent the debate they actually wanted to have, even though I wasn't sure if I could actually win. Indeed, this has been a challenging debate. However, I believe I have already won. Let me explain why.

**Dropped and Conceded Points**

Pro concedes that imperial units are defined just as precisely as metric units, and essentially drops my argument that the basis of any system of measurement is going to be at least somewhat arbitrary. And while he has tried to downplay the significance of the imperial system being an anthropocentric one, he has not been able to deny that it does have that advantage while the metric system doesn't. Note that Pro also drops my argument that shoe sizes in the imperial system are ultimately related to human feet, while metric shoe sizes are related to Earth's circumference, which proves that in at least one area, the imperial system has a non-arbitrary basis while the metric system does not. Pro's argument that the metric system is superior on the basis of how the units are defined fails.

Pro concedes that not everyone in the world uses base-10 and drops my argument about how that hinders the metric system's internationality. He also concedes that the metric prefixes don't refer to numbers other than powers of ten. The fact that they could be redefined otherwise is irrelevant to this debate; what matters is how the systems actually are defined, not how they theoretically could be redefined. Pro also drops my argument that such a redefinition would make the metric system objectively worse, so it's a moot point anyway.

Pro concedes that the point is a better unit of measurement for measuring font size than any metric unit of length, thereby conceding that there is an advantage to having multiple distinct units. Despite what my opponent implies, I have already made arguments addressing conversion ratios in the imperial system in both round 1 and round 2. Recall this argument I made in round 1:

Sure, converting from feet to miles or vice-versa might not be easy to do in your head, but how often is it actuallynecessary? The distances that tend to be measured in miles are rarely well-represented in feet. If I say the distance from New York to Chicago is roughly 711 miles, are you going to complain that you can't figure out in five seconds that that's 3,754,080 feet? No, because why would you measure that distance in feet? The metric system, however, does require you to state that the distance is about 1.144 million meters. It just allows you to say 1,144 km for short.

Consider also my entire section

**'Time to Explain'**from round 2. I will include a quote here as well:We can easily imagine a system wherein a minute is 10 or 100 seconds, and an hour is 10 or 100 minutes, and perhaps even define a day like so. But, would such a system actually be better? Would most people want to switch over to such a system? I believe the answer to both questions is no, for a simple reason: Our definition of time is made to be easily divisible into fractions and fits our Earth day well.[...]To be sure, there is a bit of a trade-off between having conversion factors that are highly composite and having conversion factors that make mental math easier. The imperial system focuses on the former, while the metric system prioritizes the latter. However, I would argue that the former is actually more important. After all, humans invented systems of measurement specifically so that they could do math with them and describe things precisely. If you are measuring, you are doing math. Maybe it is slightly easier to multiply by 10 than by 3, but does that make a system that focuses entirely on 10 inherently, innatelysuperior? My opponent seems to think so, but he doesn't provide a justification for this belief. I believe that focusing on divisible units is more important, as it allows you to create a system with different units that are tailored to different purposes, and still express a fraction of one unit as a whole number of a different unit. This is very useful when it comes to measuring things!

My opponent has made no effort to directly respond to my argument about divisibility. At no point has my opponent tried to counter my reasoning and argue that ease of conversion is more important than the convenience of having highly divisible units. In fact, by conceding that the typographical point is superior to the millimeter for describing font size, my opponent has tacitly admitted that ease of

*application*is more important than ease of*conversion*.**By allowing my point about divisibility to go completely unchallenged, my opponent has let it stand**.**Voters should keep this in mind when scoring the Arguments section of their votes.**To recap, my opponent has dropped or conceded all of these points: imperial units are precisely defined and no less inherently arbitrary than metric units, are anthropocentric unlike metric units, base-10 is not used by everyone which is problematic for the metric system, the imperial system uses many different units, some of which are tailored for specific purposes, which is advantageous, and unit divisibility is more important than ease of mental math. With all these points being either dropped or conceded, my opponent's case really has no legs remaining to stand on. He has not managed to fulfill his burden of proof, and I should therefore win this debate.

**Sources**

I have used a variety of quality sources throughout this debate. In round one alone, I used sources from British law, an international treaty, and a science article on the history of the kilogram. In round two, I also referenced the World Atlas of Language Studies and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, the organization that defines the SI Units which in turn define the metric system. These sources have helped prove important points and strengthened my arguments. My opponent, on the other hand, has not used any sources whatsoever this debate. Therefore, I humbly ask voters to award me the Sources point as well.

**Conduct**

My opponent forfeited a round of this debate due to neglect. Therefore, I humbly ask voters to award me a Conduct point as well.

**Conclusion**

My opponent was tasked with proving that the metric system is inherently and on its own merits superior to the imperial system. He has failed to do so. Therefore, please

**VOTE CON**for Arguments, Sources, and Conduct!My bibliography for this debate is in the comments section.

Thank you for voting!

Did you mean to put argument points and accidently did source points?

Also why do you think con won?

Yeah, I just kinda forgot about the Fahrenheit and Celsius. The logical integrity of the Celsius scale is that water freezes at 0 and boils at 100, but the advantage of Fahrenheit is that the range of temperature is larger, so it's easier to refer to the weather in ranges of ten. Overall interesting.

Thanks again for the debate. It was an interesting one. I can honestly say this is the only metric vs. imperial debate I've ever seen where the barleycorn and the typographical point got mentioned more than Fahrenheit and Celsius, lol. Usually, that becomes a major point of contention, but in this debate it hardly came up at all. I mentioned Fahrenheit and Celsius briefly in round 1 and then they never got brought up again. I can honestly say I wasn't expecting that, though I was totally prepared to defend Fahrenheit.

GG, I'll be done debating for a while.

Bibliography

(1) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo4/5/74/contents/enacted

(2) https://web.archive.org/web/20200609181755/https://qz.com/1458672/the-history-of-the-international-prototype-kilogram/

(3) https://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/metric/upload/frn-59-5442-1959.pdf [NOTE: opens a pdf]

(4) https://web.archive.org/web/20180224003632/http://www.sf.airnet.ne.jp/ts/language/number/ndom.html

(5) https://wals.info/feature/131A#2/33.1/146.4

(6) https://www.bipm.org/en/committees/cg/cgpm/26-2018/resolution-1

(7) https://www.etymonline.com/word/kilo-#etymonline_v_35298

(8) https://www.etymonline.com/word/centi-#etymonline_v_27865

(9) https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1681-7575/ac6afd

I'm very sorry you did that. You're going to lose a conduct point now.

I completely forgot about this debate, I was doing other stuff

My parents went camping for memorial day weekend. I went to visit them on Saturday. Other than that, I just chilled at home for the most part.

By the way, you're running out of time to post an argument. I figured I'd let you know.

Like every other weekend, except my parents went on vacation for a couple days this week and last week, but we stayed home.

That makes sense to me, considering it was a bit shorter than your other rounds. I meant to have my R3 arguments up earlier, but I didn't quite get around to working on it.

How was your Memorial Day weekend?

That latest one I wrote on my phone.

Honestly, you're not even wrong

Bro is a PHD procrastinator :skull:

Yeah, I didn't get my argument posted when I had wanted to. It's not because I was trying to trick you or anything, though, I'm just really, REALLY bad when it comes to procrastination. Even in my adult life, I haven't quite managed to kick the habit. That being said, I promised I wouldn't forfeit and I fully intend to keep that promise. I am sorry for making you wait longer than necessary. However, you did agree on the one week time limit, and that benefits you as much as it benefits me, so I'm not quite sure how I could even 'trick' you in the first place.

It's Monday now. You're running out of time. But just so you know, I'm not falling for the "Wait until they can't respond" trick.

Thanks for accepting my offer. I'm at work rn (on break) but I'll try to get my opening argument published by Friday. Though, depending on how busy I am, it might have to wait until Saturday.