Metric Views revisits some of the myths around the metric system, and asks readers to suggest how many of these might have lost credibility as a result of the welcome given in the UK to the Olympic Games of 2012.
In 2004, UKMA published a report “A very British mess” that set out the case for completing the UK’s changeover to metric – and as swiftly and cleanly as possible:
Section 5.11 of the report dealt with some of the myths and disinformation which have been created by opponents of change. It listed nine myths, and gave reasons why each is wrong. These myths are repeated below, and we ask you to decide how many have become even more difficult to justify as a result of the British public’s positive response to hosting the Olympic Games in 2012 and to the amazing achievements of Team GB.
Myth (a). “The metric system is unsuitable for everyday use”
Myth (b). “British people could not adapt to the metric system”
Myth (c). “Imperial units are natural”
Myth (d). “Imperial units are British”
Myth (e). “Metric units are foreign”
Myth (f). “The metric system has been imposed by Brussels”
Myth (g). “British Commonwealth countries use Imperial units”
Myth (h). “Americans use the same Imperial units as Britain”
Myth (i). “Our language and literature would have to change”
We suggest a tenth, occasionally heard in recent years:
Myth (j). “The metric system is a threat to our culture and traditions”
We also believe that at least five of these ought to have been finally laid to rest during the Games. Do you agree?
If indeed the public are now less likely to be taken in by these myths than they were a few months ago, then can this be turned to advantage?
In our final post about the Games, which will appear on the closing day, Metric Views will try to identify some winners and losers. Clearly, those who might benefit from misinformation about the metric system are unlikely to be on our list of winners.