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Oddly, there’s no bias here

It was meant to be one of the sure-fire wins for Brexit, but plans to bring back imperial measurements face criticism over claims of a biased government review.

Ministers were keen to launch a review to revive imperial measurements – such as pounds and ounces – and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), now overseen by Jacob Rees-Mogg, conducted a government consultation over the summer. However, the questions appeared to have something missing.

The survey asked consumers: “If you had a choice, would you want to purchase items: i) in imperial units ii) in imperial units alongside a metric equivalent.”

No other option was given.

Officials said respondents who wanted to keep the current metric system could send in an email to the department or give their views in one of the text boxes in the survey.

The BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less last week highlighted concerns about the survey and criticism of it on social media.

One Twitter user commented: “This survey is being punted out by BEIS. It is so slanted that the words nearly slide off the page.”

Because of course the current system is option ii) anyway.

26 thoughts on “Oddly, there’s no bias here”

  1. Well, I’d certainly prefer option ii. Since I grew up with imperial measures.

    Of course when the damn metric nonsense was being introduced, the advice I saw was not to try and calculate what metric was in imperial, but just get used to it. Needless to say, this led to my natural laziness stopping me developing a simple system to calculate imperial measure.

    Naturally I still haven’t got used to it!!!

  2. Yeah like we had a choice when this French system was forced on us. A system so illogical that they had to go out and find examples in nature to use as benchmarks.

    Decimalisation was bad enough….

  3. My father, as his last project before he died in 1979, designed Avery’s first electronic scales for retail use. They gave readings in both Imperial & Metric. I still occasionally see examples being used- the ‘Brecknell’ trade name was used by Avery’s. Recently I asked the local butcher’s why they were still using the Brecknell scales- “It shows the readings in kg & lbs & oz to the customer”. This ‘problem’ was solved 40 years ago, but the metric fanatics wouldn’t allow a choice, because despite the ‘logical’ choice being g & kg a minority of people preferred the old system. Please note I’m a chemical engineer & use metric units all the time (as well as Imperial & American), but I’ve noticed that people prefer to use numbers of a reasonable size rather than the strict ISO unit. Weather data used to be in bar & mbar as 1 bar was very close to 1 atmosphere, but the bar was not an ISO standard unit, the Pascal (Pa) is & 1 Pa = 0.00001 bar. This is, of course, inconvenient & the multiples of 1000 specified by ISO (kPa = 0.01 bar & MPa = 10 bar) are equally so. So now we have the hectopascal (hPa) = 100 Pa = 1 mbar! It’s not logical but now we can go on using that useful unit that is 1/1000 of an atmosphere!

  4. The question is why does the idea of spuds or carrots being sold in pounds and ounces – because that essentially is all we are really talking about – so offend the euro whores? Why did they need to so fanatically impose metric (I’m sure we all know of a few 110, 220 and 328 yard give way signs)

    In serious applications – in science, engineering etc – given the availability of online and other converters, if you are confused by metric vs imperial units then you ain’t much of a scientist or engineer. Work in what you’re used to. Convert the units before you start or after you have finished. It’s not rocket science.

  5. Being an engineer and being interested in metrology too, I prefer SI units and their vernacular multiples. But I have no issue at all with greengrocer’s selling by the pound. Since the multiple is units of potatoes, green beans, etc it’ll be a funny number in pounds or kg anyway. And of course pre-packaged items will continue to be whatever the manufacturer’s machinery produces.

  6. Pre-packaged. Note that cans are still – often – in pre-metric qs. Except newer items, in newer designs of cans, are now becoming metric. So Baked Beans might be 430 grammes (or some such) and BBQ beans in handysize servings might be 200. Because that’s how long canning lines last…..decades.

  7. Seems like a curious waste of political capital. With Brexit, the party can point to it and say “look what we achieved”. Nothing is likely to change with imperial/metric units, so the party won’t have anything to show for their efforts.

  8. Even using the metric system leads to some interesting units. The National Weather Service here in the US talks about 500 millibar heights in decameters. But then again, when have you seen anything listed in deci-units?

  9. It’s the chancers that try to sell with no units at all or made-up ones that annoy.
    “Seasoned logs, £5 a bag” displayed at the side of the road.
    “Driving lessons £20”
    “£10 a dance”
    “100bn for a HS2”

  10. I had to fill my car tyres for the first time yesterday. The manual said 2.2bar. The machine that I’ve used for 12 years says PSI. Neither manual nor machine gave any information on how to convert. So I guessed and used the same as my last car, 28psi. I got home and checked online and 2.2bar is 32psi!

  11. I must admit that I use metric on my bathrooms scales.
    But that is because I cannot process more than three numbers ( eg 78.5) first thing in the morning.

  12. Yeah like we had a choice when this French system was forced on us.
    Ironically, France – as anyone who’s lived there will know – does retain a choice. Thanks to Napoleon 🙂

  13. Incidentally, with the Imperial measures there’s always some relationship between the measure & what’s being measured. At the time of Nappy, the french army were still using a peculiarly French measure for artillery distances. (Napoleon was of course an artilleryman.) Now this is a complete guess, but there will be a relationship between some visible object – say the apparent height of a man – & some useful common comparator. And the unit will be repeatedly divisible by two. So to calculate elevation to hit the target, it’s not necessary to do any complicated, time consuming arithmetic. Just keep halving the comparator & read it off of a scale. Doesn’t even need to be in degrees.

  14. My dad was an electrician who worked in inches and fractions.

    When he paid off the mortgage on the house at the end of the 1990s and started doing renovations, one was to install laminate flooring, which was sold in metric-sized planks. He wasn’t a fan of metric going into the project, but found that for doing division, it worked a lot better than having to deal with feet and inches.

    Interestingly, here in the US, rooms are measured in feet and inches, but wall-to-wall carpeting has historically been sold by the square yard.

  15. It wasn’t a million years ago that you might buy in French markets by the (French) pound, or in Italy by the etto (about a quarter pound).

    When I lived in Oz a colleague told me that an old ruler I owned was illegal because it had both a metric scale and an Imperial scale.
    Not obsolete, not frowned upon, actually illegal. But then it was illegal to drive with the car window open and my elbow on the sill. They seemed to put up with a lot of authoritarianism, our Aussie cousins. But they seemed to have no tradition of holding their ruling class to the same standards.

  16. A third option should have been provided – that of preferring metric without imperial.

    @Mark – “why does the idea of spuds or carrots being sold in pounds and ounces so offend the euro whores?”

    It doesn’t. There’s no problem selling stuff in any unit the customer wants. What offends them if the idea of stuff being sold by people who refuse to tell customers the measurement in metric. If you go into Sainsburys you’ll find milk on sale in pints – nothing wrong with that as it also says what that means in metric.

    This consultation is merely idiot Brexiteers desperately looking for something that they can claim to be a benefit because they cannot see anything else.

    @bloke in spain – “with the Imperial measures there’s always some relationship between the measure & what’s being measured.”

    That’s clearly nonsense as the same units (e.g. gallons) are different in the UK and the US and have even varied over time in the UK.

  17. That’s clearly nonsense as the same units (e.g. gallons) are different in the UK and the US and have even varied over time in the UK.
    It doesn’t matter what the actual quantity of a measure is. As long as everyone using it agrees on the quantity.
    As far as a gallon is concerned, fine example of a measure fit for purpose. It’s possible to go up through the fluid measures from gill through pint to gallon by repeated doubling. So you only actually need one example of the standard measure to produce the entire range. Far easier than the 3 figure numbers required in the metric system. The metric system is probably the hardest system to use for any practical purpose. Base 10’s a very clumsy number. Only 2 factors. For weight & volume base 16’s far superior.
    Which is why, of course, the imperial type scales long precede metric. Designed by practical people rather than academics.

  18. Incidentally, why base 16 for volume/weight but base 12 for length? Because for volume/weight you’ll almost never have to measure an exact third. Length you often do. The disparity between base 16 in one & base 12 in the other? Irrelevant. No-one ever had to calculate one in the other.

  19. Tractor Gent
    September 18, 2022 at 8:54 am
    “But I have no issue at all with greengrocer’s selling by the pound.”

    I accuse you, Sir, of misapostrophation and have reported you to the Apostropher General !

  20. That’s clearly nonsense as the same units (e.g. gallons) are different in the UK and the US and have even varied over time in the UK.

    The US adopted the British system in 1776, but we changed ours (made it ‘Imperial’) in the 19th century, while the US kept the old (‘Queen Anne’) usage, rather as with the language (‘gotten’ and so forth).

  21. This consultation is merely idiot Brexiteers desperately looking for something that they can claim to be a benefit because they cannot see anything else.

    If you can’t see anything else, you’re either very thick or haven’t been paying attention. Or maybe ‘democracy’ isn’t considered much of a ‘benefit’ round your way.

    I’m always amazed when (apparently) intelligent EU supporters say “I’ve never heard any arguments in favour of Brexit”, when what they mean is “I’ve never listened to any such”. I can give you half a dozen arguments for Remaining (short-term economic advantage being one) – I felt they were outweighed, but at least I’m aware that they exist. Yet clearly everyone but you is just an ‘idiot’ – way to win people round to your point of view, Charlie.

  22. @bloke in spain – “for volume/weight you’ll almost never have to measure an exact third. Length you often do.”

    However, volume is length x length x length, so it’s very awkward if the units of volume don’t match those of length. Just as it’s awkward if the units of area don’t match those of length – and arguments about one man ploughing for a day are obviously obsolete.

    @Chris Miller

    It’s rather silly for you to complain about other people listening, when you haven’t paid attention to what I wrote. I implied that there were some people who were idiot Brexiteers who cannot see other benefits, which does not meant that all Brexiteers are idiots or that all are failing to see other benefits.

    I have certainly heard many arguments in favour of Brexit, though they all have been flawed – such as your vague reference to democracy – something that Brexit demonstrated very little of, with its proponents desperate to avoid putting the actual terms to the people and even trying to avoid putting them to Parliament – presumably because if the people had known exactly what kind of Brexit they would get they would have not voted for it.

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