Talk:Anthropic units

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Small error[edit]

Not sure how to change it myself but there is an error in the caption box for the flow diagram showing human bias in the formation of SI units. It reads that a Mole is defined as the number of carbon 12 atoms in one kilogram, i believe this should read in 0.012 kg. This is what i know to be true and is stated on the page for the mole. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:57, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the correction Unitfreak (talk) 09:01, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

I think that this is a good article ...[edit]

... but mistitled. "Anthropic" is not the same as "Anthropometric" nor "Anthropocentric". Also, I am not sure of the reasonableness of any connection to the cosmological Anthropic principle. (Maybe the AP can speak to the question "why are there about 1035 Planck lengths in a metre?" or similarly for the relationship between other natural units and the anthropometric counterparts. But it might be a stretch that someone in the know might view as OR. (talk) 03:46, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Added links to these topics. (talk) 04:06, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Other Units[edit]

I'm sure there are a great many units not already covered in this article that could be, and perhaps already have entries in Wikipedia. Fistmele, for example, was used to measure the brace height (distance between a bow's string and the bow itself) in archery, and is the length of a fist with outstretched thumb, making it similar (but potentially slightly different to) the shaftment. Steamboat28 (talk) 11:28, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Removed prod notice.[edit]

I removed the proposed deletion notice because I think that, although the article is written somewhat like an essay, it's probably the best assembly of man-based units on the wiki. Deletion would be a step too far. Eventually, if I find the time, I'll try to find references. Brammers (talk/c) 15:29, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

Unreferenced material[edit]

So, this article has been tagged as unreferenced since 2009, and no-one seems to have done anything about that. I believe that is long enough, so I have boldly removed what I believe to be the unreferenced stuff, and put it here, behind a pleasantly-coloured green bar, for discussion.

Unreferenced material from the article

[ ... ], and as such, are commonly referred to as anthropomorphic (meaning "human shaped") [ ... ] Header: Anthropomorphic units

Some hand-derived units of measurement, including the Shaftment (1), Hand (2), Palm (3), Span (4), Finger (5) and Digit (6)

Anthropomorphic units are a special subclass of anthropic units. Anthropomorphic units are derived directly from the dimensions of the human body (form), and many have names which reference the specific part of the body from which the unit originated. Some common examples are as follows:

Digit is a Latin word meaning finger. As a unit of length, the digit is currently standardized to be a sixteenth of a foot. In English the word “finger” or “fingerbreadth” is also a unit of length, although the finger length is slightly larger than the digit. From a practical standpoint, fingerbreadths can easily be used to measure by simply placing ones hand on an object and counting the number of fingerbreadths that cover a specific distance.
The English word “inch” was derived from the Latin “uncial” meaning one twelfth, and the inch is defined to be a twelfth of a foot. The historical origin of the inch as a length is disputed, but there is evidence relating it to the width of an average man’s thumb. Other European languages have similarly sized anthropomorphic units with names directly derived from the word for thumb in that language, so it is reasonable to assume that the English inch is an anthropomorphic derivation of the thumb width.
Palm and Hand 
Palm and hand, or handbreadth, have both historically been used in English to refer to specific lengths. The hand or handbreadth is currently standardized to be four inches, whereas the palm is standardized to be three.
A shaftment is the width of the fist and outstretched thumb. The lengths of poles, staves, etc. can be easily measured by grasping the bottom of the staff with thumb extended and repeating such hand over hand grips along the length of the staff. The shaftment is currently standardized to be six inches, or half of a foot.
A span is the width of a human hand, from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger. The span, from ancient times, has been considered to be 1/2 cubit (as described below). The span is currently standardized to be nine inches.
The human foot can easily be used to measure floor distances by placing one’s right heel against a wall, and placing the left foot in front of the right foot with the heel of the left foot touching the toes of the right foot. Then step forward placing the right foot in front with the heel touching the left toes. Repeat this foot over foot placement across the floor distance, counting footsteps. The standardized English foot is defined to be twelve inches, although this is larger than what is typically found in human populations.
The cubit is the length of the forearm (from the elbow to the fingertips). The cubit is a very old unit of measurement used in many ancient cultures with different length values. The modern cubit is standardized to be 1.5 feet, or 18 inches.
A number of anthropomorphic techniques have evolved for measuring cords and textiles, and these techniques have resulted in various anthropomorphic measurement units. The fathom is a unit of length derived from an old English word meaning outstretched arms.[citation needed] It is currently standardized to be six feet or 72 inches. A technique for measuring ropes is to hold a length of rope taut between one’s hands while holding the left hand out as far as possible to the left side of the body and the right hand out as far as possible to the right side of the body. When the hands are brought together this length of rope will form a loop. This loop may be placed in the left hand while the hands are again outstretched to grasp another length and then brought together to form another loop. By repeating this process, the rope can be completely gathered into loops. The length of each loop will be equal to one fathom (the length of ones outstretched arms). Therefore, the total length of the rope in fathoms can be determined by counting the number of loops.
Ell and Yard 
The ell (meaning arm) and yard are both anthropomorphic units with origins similar to the fathom described above. The English ell is the length from a hand to the opposing shoulder, currently standardized to be 45 inches. The yard is the distance from a hand to the center of the chest, currently standardized to be 36 inches. These lengths can be used to measure ropes and textiles using a technique similar to that described above for the fathom, but with slight variation. A fathom of rope is obtained by holding the rope taut between the hands with the hands outstretched as far as possible. An ell is obtained when the rope is held taut with the left hand outstretched to the left of the body, while the right hand is held close to the right shoulder. A yard is obtained when the left hand is outstretched to the left while the right hand is held near the center of the chest.

Header: Other anthropic units Some anthropic units were not directly derived from any part of the human anatomy, but rather, evolved indirectly from human behaviors such as walking or farming. A few examples are as follows:

Farm-derived units of measurement:
  1. The rod is a historical unit of length equal to 5½ yards. It may have originated from the typical length of a mediaeval ox-goad. There are 4 rods in one chain.
  2. The furlong (meaning furrow length) was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. This was standardised to be exactly 40 rods or 10 chains.
  3. An acre was the amount of land tillable by one man behind one ox in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due to the difficulty in turning the plough and the value of river front access.
  4. An oxgang was the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season. This could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres.
  5. A virgate was the amount of land tillable by two oxen in a ploughing season.
  6. A carucate was the amount of land tillable by a team of eight oxen in a ploughing season. This was equal to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates.
The rod has essentially the same meaning now that it originally had, being a straight branch or pole. The length of the rod may have originated from the typical length of a medieval ox-goad. The rod is currently standardized as 5.5 yards.
The furlong is a unit of length derived from the Old English words furh (furrow) and lang (long). It was originally defined as the length a plough team was to be driven without resting. It was later standardized to be 40 rods or 220 yards.
The word acre is derived from an old English word meaning an open field. It was approximately the amount of land tillable by one man, behind one ox, in one day. A rectangle of length 1 furlong and width 4 rods (1 chain) has an area of 1 acre. There are 640 acres in a modern square mile.
A pace is a measure of distance used in Ancient Rome. It is the measure of a full stride from the position of the heel when it is raised from the ground to the point the same heel is set down again at the end of the step. Thus, a distance can be "paced off" by counting each time the same heel touches ground, or in other words, every other step. In Rome this unit was standardized as five Roman feet (about 1.48 metres or 58.1 English inches).
The mile is a modern derivation of the Ancient Roman “mille passus” which literally means "a thousand paces" in Latin. The Roman pace was standardized as five Roman feet, so the Roman “mille passus” was 5,000 Roman feet (about 1,480 meters, or 1,618 modern yards). The current definition of a mile as 5,280 feet (as opposed to 5,000) dates to the 13th century.
The league is an ancient unit of length defined as the distance a typical person could walk in an hour. In ancient Rome the league was standardized to be 1.5 Roman miles. In modern times the league is generally standardized to be 3 miles.

Header: Anthropically-scaled natural units

Anthropic units and natural units each have unique advantages and disadvantages. Anthropic units, which arise from human physiology and behavior, often have the advantage of being accessible to humans and useful for human purposes. The disadvantage of anthropic units is that they are often difficult to standardize.

Some of the scale factors used in metric unit definitions are illustrated in the images below. The length of the line below each scale factor is a logarithmic representation of the value. A black line indicates that the scale factor is currently used in the definition of the unit. A red line indicates that the scale factor is no longer in use. And a green line indicates that the scale factor is being considered for future use.

The cubit (forearm length), for example, is an ancient unit used in many cultures. A person’s forearm is almost always available, and using one’s forearm to measure distances removes the necessity of carrying additional measuring devices. Also, the forearm is a good standard length for measuring human scaled objects such as buildings and ships. However, one person's forearm length might vary from another person's forearm by as much as a few inches. A boat might be 30 cubits long to a large person but as much as 40 cubits to a small person. This could cause difficulties where collaboration is required. Also, human bodies continually grow and change shape over time, so anthropomorphic measurement systems are inherently unstable.

Natural units have the advantage of being independent of human culture and behavior. Some examples are the circumference of the earth, the duration of a day, the mass of an electron, and the triple-point of water. Since these values are independent of human populations and outside of human control, they can be used as international standards without discriminating against any particular person, group, or nation. Also, unlike the dimensions of the human body, natural values can be determined to a high degree of accuracy and are unlikely to change over time. Therefore, they are ideal for collaboration and standardization.

Natural units, however, have their own unique set of disadvantages. The primary disadvantages is that natural units are often inaccessible to common people and not useful for human purposes. For example, it would be difficult for an untrained person to measure the circumference of the earth to any degree of accuracy. And even if they could, it would be difficult to communicate such lengths in everyday contexts.

There has been a trend in the last few hundred years towards the use of anthropically scaled natural units. In an anthropically scaled system, one chooses a natural unit and then multiplies that unit by a scale factor to obtain a base unit that is useful for human purposes. Anthropically scaled natural units harness the advantage of being both natural and anthropic. Some examples are as follows:

Universal Time (UT)
Our current system of dividing the day into 24 hours, with 60 minutes in each hour and 60 seconds in each minute, is perhaps the oldest example of an anthropically scaled natural system. The day is a natural unit of time, since its duration is beyond human control, but the duration of the day is too long to be suitable for many human time measurements. Therefore, to obtain a set of time units suitable for human activities, the day was divided into hours, minutes, and seconds.
nautical units
The nautical system of length units is another example of an anthropically scaled natural system. The nautical system divides the circumference of the earth into 360 degrees, with each degree being divided into 60 nautical miles, and each nautical mile being divided into one thousand nautical fathoms. Also, in analogy to the statutory league, a nautical league is defined to be 3 nautical miles.
grain mass
In many cultures, a grain was a natural unit of measurement of mass that was based upon the mass of a single seed of a typical cereal. These grain mass units were often too small for common human purposes; therefore, a scale factor was used to obtain a larger more useful anthropic mass unit. The avoirdupois pound, for example, was defined to be 7,000 barley grains. The troy pound was defined to be 5,760 barley grains. And the tower pound was defined to be 7,200 wheat grains (or 5,400 barley grains).
Fahrenheit Temperature
In the early 18th century, when Daniel Fahrenheit manufactured mercury- and alcohol-filled thermometers, he used three temperatures to determine a temperature range: the first temperature was obtained by mixing water and ice with ammonium chloride, the second by mixing water and ice without ammonium chloride, and the third by placing the thermometer in the mouth or armpit of a healthy person. However, these three temperatures alone were insufficient for human purposes, so Daniel used a scale factor to obtain additional values. The mixture of water, ice, and ammonium chloride was used to define a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit. The human body was used to define a temperature of ninety six degrees Fahrenheit. This placed the freezing point of water at thirty two degrees Fahrenheit.
metric units
When the French invented the original metric system in the late 18th century, they used survey data to estimate the length of one quadrant of the earth (the distance from the equator to the north pole). To achieve a manageable length unit, the French divided the earth’s quadrant into 10 million equal parts. The length obtained through this method was named the metre. The French then used the metre to define other measurement standards. The standard volume, the litre, was defined to be a thousandth of a cubic metre. And the standard mass, the gram, was defined to be a thousandth of the mass of a litre of pure water. These original metric units were all anthropically scaled natural units, based on the circumference of the earth.
International System of Units
In the subsequent two hundred years since its inception, the metric system has evolved into the International System of Units (SI). There are currently seven base SI units: the metre (m), kilogram (kg), second (s), ampere (A), kelvin (K), mole (mol), and candela (cd). The definitions for the base units of the metric system have changed over time, but most are still anthropically scaled natural units, the notable exception being the modern kilogram which is defined in terms of an artifact. There is, however, currently a movement in the international community to increase the accuracy of the kilogram by redefining it in terms of an anthropically scaled natural value.

Header: Anthropically Biased Natural Units

{{Anthropic Bias}} Natural units are intended to be directly derived from nature and to be free of human influence. However, our selection of a particular unit is often driven by a human preference. Therefore, we might use the term “anthropically biased natural units” to designate natural units which were selected because of a particular human prejudice, preconception, bias, or preference. The following are examples of an anthropic bias in the selection of natural units:

Motions of the Earth and Moon
Most of the units used in human time measurement were derived from the motions of the earth and moon. Some examples include the year, the month, the day, the week (7 days), the hour (day / 24), the minute, and the second. The motions of the earth and moon figure prominently in human lives. These motions cause changes in the weather from one season to the next, and they cause changes in ambient brightness from night to day and from new moon to full moon. Given the profound impact of these motions on human life, it is not surprising that humans have an anthropic preference for using these motions to measure time.
Dimensions of the Earth
A number of measurement units were derived from the dimensions of the earth. These earth-derived units include the nautical league, the nautical mile, the nautical fathom, the metre, the litre, and the kilogram. Humans live on the earth, and the shape of the earth is an important factor in human endeavors such as navigation. So using the shape of the earth to obtain measurement units is a clear example of an anthropically biased choice.
Triple Point of Water
The Kelvin temperature scale is obtained by using absolute zero as the Kelvin zero point, and then setting the triple point of water as the Kelvin scale value of 273.16. This definition may not immediately appear to be anthropically biased. Water is a natural substance, and the triple point is a fundamental property of any natural substance. Therefore, the triple point of water is a fundamental value of nature and not an anthropic value. However, there may be an anthropic bias in the selection of water for this purpose. The earth is the only known planet to have large quantities of water in all three states, solid, liquid, and gas. This abundance of water on earth may have given humans a preconceived notion of the importance of water. Hence, humans have an anthropic bias towards using water to define measurement units.
Carbon-12 Atoms
The mole is currently defined as the amount of substance of a system which contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon 12. The selection of Carbon 12, as the element used in this definition of the mole, is similar to the use of water in the definition of the kelvin described above. Carbon is one of the most important elements for human life. In fact, Carbon is a component in all organic substances. Therefore, humans have a prejudice in favor of the element carbon, and this prejudice may have guided the decision to use carbon in defining the mole.

Header: The anthropic principle

The term “universal physical constants” is used in the scientific community to designate those constants of nature which represent the least amount of anthropic bias. To understand the meaning of this term, it is helpful to imagine highly intelligent non-human beings existing in some remote part of the universe. With such beings in mind, one can classify various natural constants in terms of the relative importance that these imaginary beings might place on them.

For example, human astronomers often use the “astronomical unit” (AU) as a reference for measuring distances in the solar system. The astronomical unit is defined as the mean distance of the earth’s orbit from the sun. This distance is an important reference for humans because it represents the orbit of our planet. But this distance probably wouldn’t be important to intelligent beings in some remote part of the universe. So the astronomical unit is not a “universal” constant of nature.

As a less obvious example, humans use properties of both water and the element carbon to derive measurement units. Water and carbon are both universal substances (believed to exist everywhere in the universe), so intelligent beings in some remote part of the universe might have access to these substances. However, they might not place the same importance on these substances. To understand this, consider that computers display some of the attributes of human intelligence. But unlike humans, computer chips are primarily composed of silicon. So if intelligent beings elsewhere were composed of silicon then they might not value carbon as an important element.

Although still a topic of debate, Scientists have achieved a level of consensus with respect to the universal status of certain physical constants. The constants which appear most likely to be universal are the following:

The masses and various other properties of elementary particles and the coupling values associated with the strong, weak, and electromagnetic interactions are also considered to be universal.

As a final twist, some scientists now believe in the existence of other universes. The exact nature of these other universes and their topological connection to our universe is a topic of speculation and debate. But if they do exist, then some scientists further speculate that the values of universal constants may not be the same in each of the universes as in the others. For example, the speed of light might be faster or slower in one universe than it is in another. Scientists further speculate that if the universal constants are different in differing universes, then some universes may have values which support the evolution of intelligent life and others may have values which repress the evolution of life. Scientists and philosophers further speculate that it may be impossible for a universe which does not support intelligent life to exist, because existence is verified through observation by an intelligent being; therefore, a universe can not exist without an observer.

This belief in many universes, together with the belief that some universes have natural properties which prohibit the evolution and existence of intelligent life, is known as the anthropic principle. If the anthropic principle is correct, then one might rightly conclude that all units of measurement are anthropic units. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that we live in a universe which supports human life; therefore, our universe is an anthropically biased universe. Furthermore, any constants of nature that exist in our universe will be anthropically biased. Hence, our units of measurement will be anthropically biased.

I suggest that as bits of it are referenced and put back into the article, they also be struck through (like this) here so that we can keep track. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 15:04, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

JLAN, per WP:DONOTDEMOLISH, I restored this material to the article. You seem to not be disputing that a "hand" is based on a handswidth, you are just wanting to remove everything that is unsourced. My suggestion is that if you have an actual question about certain elements, they can be discussed, clearly, but the wholesale blanking is not an appropriate solution. Montanabw(talk) 21:50, 27 September 2011 (UTC) Follow up: I decided to post this issue at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Measurement#Anthropic_measurements.2Funits. If anyone there actually cares, they can step in and offer some additional perspective. I do feel rather strongly that a lack of references doesn't automatically mean the article is bogus, it just means we need to do some more legwork, that's all. Montanabw(talk) 22:19, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, additional perspective would be good. WP:demolish hardly applies here, this stuff has been lying around unreferenced for more than two years; WP:V, WP:NPOV and WP:BURDEN are far more compelling. The article has carried a tag reading "Unsourced material may be challenged and removed" since May 2009. I agree that the removed text does contain some statements that do not require references, or could easily be referenced; reading through from the top, the first one I come to is "The cubit is a very old unit of measurement used in many ancient cultures with different length values"; but almost all the rest of it is questionable to some degree, and thus needs to be properly referenced. Please do not add stuff back into the article unless it is referenced. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 10:07, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
The operative word is always "may," not "must." The tag is to alert people of ways to IMPROVE, not destroy an article. If you want to wholesale blank or stub-ify every article in WP that has an unref tag, you will be deleting a couple million articles, probably. Deletionism is rather silly for concepts worth keeping that are just on the rough side, the deletion policy is more helpful for things like people's garage bands and local sports teams. If there is actual questionable material, then reword it so it is more precise, or tag it specifically as dubious, toss it if it's clear vandalism, and if there is consensus that it's dubious (which may be that those who care simply don't defend it), then it can go. Montanabw(talk) 16:52, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

It is quite a pleasant colour. Jimp 02:24, 16 December 2015 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

I'm having difficulty locating any reliable source, anywhere, that uses the phrase "anthropic units" with the meaning it has here. A number of "books" mention it, but they are those "books" that are in fact a compilation of Wikipedia articles. Does this topic actually exist? Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 15:27, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

This is a legitimate question. My take is that an article with this content -- that discusses and summarizes the units of measurement based upon the dimensions of the human body or human creations -- is needed, but perhaps research can reveal the proper name for the general concept and provide a more appropriate title. Tossing the content is messy and, IMHO, abrupt per WP:DEMOLISH. We might find a proper term with a bit of work. Or we can just rename it something horribly clunky like measurements based on the human body. I also googled terms like anthropic measurement, anthropic principle, etc. and DID come up with a few more assorted references and use. What I am finding is that the concept is out there. However the word "unit" is not used a lot and therefore there might be a better term for the principle . For example, see this informal source and this one. Blogs are not RS for wikipedia, but the concept IS out there. Maybe we need to look at a new title like primal unit or anthropic measurement. Anthropic principle doesn't look directly related, though the idea of "man as the (literal) measure of all things" probably fits as the underlying concept on all of this. See simple dictionary explanation of anthropic principle. Montanabw(talk) 22:11, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
"Follow up': Here are some other WP articles that may be helpful in exploring this question: History of measurement, Units of measurement, Imperial units, United States customary units, English units. Clearly, this is a rather large can of worms to open. Montanabw(talk) 22:31, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Re follow-up: none of those wp articles mentions "anthropic". Re previous: obviously the anthropic principle is notable and widely discussed; so are anthropic materials, and anthropic units in the contexts of both archeology and sociology. They just don't seem to be discussed in the context of units of measurement. Since I couldn't think of a longer title, I have started a List of units of measurement based on the human body. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:20, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
That might work. Possibly an annotated list with any info in this article that is not duplicated elsewhere moved there. Once annotated, I might even support making this a redirect to the list. Montanabw(talk) 16:46, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
I found "anthropic unit" refering to units of measurement in peer-reviewed journals as far back as 1990 and possibly earlier. Refering to SI base units: [1] (2003) has "As the candela is the only 'anthropic' unit, it cannot completely be traced back to fundamental constants." and [2] (1990) has "The 'candela' for example is very much an anthropic unit, for its usage much involves properties of the human eye (as incorporated in the V-lamda curve)." (based on a Google search for "anthropic unit" - with quotes) — Joe Kress (talk) 19:59, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Joe. I think that is helpful. Montanabw(talk) 20:43, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I won't try to look into whether there are sufficient citations to the use of "anthropic unit" in appropriate sources to support this article (which does seem very much like an essay). But I think we can use word origins to figure out that if such a term is in fairly widespread use, it ought to mean related to humans. Some of the claims in the article are based on the size of the Earth and Moon. I think that's a stretch. Other creatures live on Earth. Some of them might make measurements, although humans haven't noticed such behavior yet. Some of them might make measurements in the distant future. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:13, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

The fundamental physical constants and the frontier of measurement by Brian William Petley (1988) says, "Evidently, the metre and kilogram occupy a reasonbly central position as far as symmetry in positive and negative powers of ten is concerned, emphasising that the SI units are natural anthropic units as well." Zyxwv99 (talk) 19:37, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


Journey (Wiktionary journey) ( journey c.1200, "a defined course of traveling; one's path in life," from O.Fr. journee "day's work or travel" (12c.), from V.L. diurnum "day," noun use of neut. of L. diurnus "of one day" (see diurnal). Meaning "act of traveling by land or sea" is c.1300. In M.E. it also meant "a day" (c.1400); a day's work (mid-14c.); "distance traveled in one day" (mid-13c.), and as recently as Johnson (1755) the primary sense was still "the travel of a day.")

This is not recognized as an anthropic unit of distance anywhere on Wikipedia that I can find. It's about 15 miles, though I don't have a cite for that. It's nevertheless used in determining the area required to sustain hunter-gatherers, boundaries for subtle shifts in dialect, the spacing of stagecoach stops, and even of rest stops on ancient Khmer Highways. Can anyone help me find good sources? --Pawyilee (talk) 16:10, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

excellent article[edit]

many thanks to the original writer — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:09, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

A.F.Whillock Measure for Man is an excellent essay, too, complete with reference footnotes. Whillock uses the terms anthropo-compatible and anthropometric measure, but the latter term is restricted specifically to measuring man as specimen. --Pawyilee (talk) 12:00, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Vegaswikian (talk) 18:29, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Anthropic unitsSome new name – The present title appears not to be in use in English with the meaning it is given here. Dictionaries do not give this meaning. "Anthropic units" is a term in social psychology and in archeology, but not in measurement science. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 19:45, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

Oppose per Joe Kress, comments above. "Some other name" is certainly not an appropriate goal. Do some research, find a better term, suggest a specific article name, and I might reconsider my position. But this rename proposal as it sits is just throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Montanabw(talk) 21:32, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

I continue to be mystified by your determination to maintain this article in its present pitiable state, an unreferenced essay on a non-existent topic. You don't want links to it to be removed (I've tried that and been reverted); you don't want the name to be changed; you don't want the massive amount of unreferenced stuff in the article to be removed (I've tried that more than once, and been reverted as many times); you obviously don't want to add any references to that same massive amount of unreferenced material which you have repeatedly added back into the article, WP:BURDEN notwithstanding, or you would by now have done so. Just exactly what do you want? I ask because it appears here, as elsewhere, that you merely want to conserve the status quo, regardless of the merit or otherwise of the article, and without regard to principles which some others here occasionally try to observe, such as WP:V. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 20:22, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I believe that people need to improve articles, not throw them out. I think it's just lazy to not do the work to improve the content. When something is wrong, it should be put right, but put right by adding, changing or fixing, not by just dumping things you disagree with unless there is clear evidence that something is not simply questionable, but flat out wrong (clearly, material stating the earth is flat can be removed per WP:FRINGE, but few things are that clear cut). It is clear that there exist a tremendous amount of human-based measurement, and it is logical that some sort of overview article on the topic is useful. This article is an attempt, albeit imperfect to do so. But, as far as I can tell, all you apparently want to do is just delete things because you personally disagree with them or can't find any sources for them. What do I want? I'd like you to contribute by adding to and improving articles, not just blanking and deleting things because you have no time or interest in improving them. Montanabw(talk) 22:50, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Looks like you need to re-read WP:BURDEN. The crucial bit is this: The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. You restored a mass of unreferenced material to this article. Several weeks have passed, you've added not one reference. How much longer do you think you will need? Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 19:48, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I am well aware of WP:BURDEN, I believe I first pointed it out to you. Did you notice that it advises "try to add sources yourself?" Here, it was you who started this by dumping huge amounts of material, not I. Frankly, I don't have a tremendous interest in this topic, other than to see that non-SI units are given respect and proper consideration, given that over 300 million people still use them, and I'm not going to jump to just because you think I should, I have other topics where I have more interest. I am primarily concerned with your behavior across multiple articles, demanding that everything that cannot be proven to your satisfaction must therefore be deleted. It's one thing if material can be proven to be inaccurate, that clearly needs to be fixed. It is another if an article just needs work. As I have said, perhaps there is a different and better term for this concept, and that should be examined -- and given that you are making a move request, you need to take that responsibility. In addition, you need to stop insulting people in general, you need to learn how to seek consensus, and you desperately need to tone down your assumption that everyone else is stupid and inferior to your great self, it's getting quite tiresome. Montanabw(talk) 21:17, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
I hate to even mention other articles exist, but see also human scale, which I'm sure you also think should be deleted wholesale because it's unreferenced. (JLAN, do you ever look to see if there is other stuff out there, or do you prefer to just make everyone else do all the work?) See also definition of anthropic, certainly this can be viewed as a proper use of the term as opposed to a klutzier title like "human body-based measurements" Montanabw(talk) 21:30, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Anthropomorphic units vs. anthropically-scaled / anthropically biased[edit]

After having read lots of scholarly books and articles on the history of weights and measures, I get the distinct impression that there are far fewer anthropomorphic units than most people think. The Anglo-Saxon yard, for example, was an actual physical standard. At times an ell was also used. The national prototype yard-rods and ell-rods were usually stored in the most secure building in the kingdom, or in the case of the Wessex kings, confederation of kingdoms. William the Conqueror had the national standard prototypes moved from Winchester to London. Even though the foot may have been, at times, legally defined as the length of a foot, the inch as the length of three barley-corns, etc., the actual standard was a rod of iron or bronze (or in early Anglo-Saxon times possibly wood). Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that many legal definitions, e.g. the Tower pennyweight as "thirty-two grains of wheat, dry, taken from the middle of the ear," were just ritual formulas or legal boilerplate.

The pace almost certainly started out as an anthropic unit. However, by the time the Romans had an empire of 100 million people stretching over thousands of miles, Roman linear measurement had attained a degree of consistency and uniformity strongly suggesting the existence of a national propotype pace-rod.

I think that most so-called anthropic units were actually anthropically scaled and anthropically biased, but not actually anthropic. In many cases they may have been both at different periods of their development. Lately I've been cleaning up articles relevant to this issue on which I have specific data with scholarly references. However, it's a huge amount of work.

To get some idea of what kind of changes I am proposing, look at the tail end of Foot (unit)#Historical origin, the part that begins, "The verification of the foot..." I found that part highly misleading, as it implies that people were in the metrological dark ages before the invention of modern science and the metric system. Then look at the section I added Foot (unit)#In England as a first step to addressing the problem. The point is, I could use a little help here. Zyxwv99 (talk) 17:40, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Proposal to narrow focus of this article to anthropomorphic[edit]

One reason it's so hard to find references to support the concept of "anthropic units" is that it isn't a valid concept. That's because it includes anthropically-baised units. That might have seemed like a valid concept in the Age of Enlightenment, when the quest for scientific objectivity was the Holy Grail of philosophy. However, for about the last hundred years there has been an emerging consensus that all human activity is "anthropically biased." Thus, anthropically-biased units do not appear to be a valid category. On the other hand, many units of measurement appear to have been, at some point in their history, scaled to the dimensions of the human body. Furthermore, this is something that could much more easily be referenced. Zyxwv99 (talk) 18:14, 1 February 2012 (UTC)