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Abstract Scale

A system of measurement for something that doesn't seem like it could be measured in discrete units in the first place. Almost always used for humor. Broke the Rating Scale may invoke this when it gets silly. This is presumably how you tell if something is Twenty Per Cent More Awesome.

Compare Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure, which is when someone measures a quantifiable thing in a strange way.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: "Vegeta, what does the scouter say about his power level?" "It's over nine thousaaaaaand!!!"
    • It would be one thing if the scouter was simply quantifying stored energy, but it seems to be able to quantify fighting effectiveness as evidenced by Goku's and Picolo's power levels registering higher after they take off their weighted clothing.
    • At one point, one villain tells another to take off their scouter, since the Z-Fighters can change their power levels pretty much at will.
      • The Power Levels are deliberately useless; Word of God was that it was intended to show that one can't use cold calculation to predict how a fight would go, and to show the inherent flaw in basing assumptions on only raw power while ignoring skill and determination.

    Film 
  • At the end of the first Men In Black movie, J quantifies the battle with the Bug as ranking 9.5 on the "Weird-Shit-O-Meter".
  • Parodied in Team America: World Police, where it is noted that an upcoming terrorist event, if it completes, would be "Nine Eleven times a hundred" - as is pointed out, that's 91,100 ("basically all the worst parts of the Bible"). Another is "Nine Eleven times a thousand" - 911,000. Kim Jong-Il described his ultimate plan, which involves simultaneous terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction across the world as "Nine Eleven times 2356," which nobody knows note .

    Literature 
  • Beauty has been measured in milliHelens (the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship) in The Rebel Angels, a novel by Robertson Davies. This system was invented by Cambridge mathematician W.A.H. Rushton; the term was possibly first suggested by Isaac Asimov. Irregular Webcomic!, however, pointed out that you shouldn't mix metric prefixes with Troy units.
    • Note that Helen herself scores 1.186 Helens.
  • Borderline example, since it measures magic, which doesn't actually exist in the real world anyway, from Discworld:
    A thaum is the basic unit of magical strength. It has been universally established as the amount of magic needed to create one small white pigeon or three normal-sized billiard balls.
    • Naturally, it is measured by thaumometers. Some early books measure magic in "Primes", the amount of magic needed to move one pound of lead one foot. The Companion eventually explained that the Prime was the metric measurement, and the thaum is the "imperial" one. Wizards tending to be hidebound traditionalists, the Prime never caught on.
    • A few straighter examples are found in Moving Pictures. "Numbers" Riktor was a mad wizard who believed everything could be measured, and created such devices as the "swamp meter".
  • Good Omens gives us the alp as a way of measuring belief (in reference to the notion that "faith moves mountains"). Most people are only able to generate millialps, while more passionate believers like Anathema Device able to raise about half an alp. Adam's belief is measured in Everests.
  • An amateur sci-fi writer group on LiveJournal attempted to come up with "Brian's Scale" to measure the fame of sci-fi authors, based on number of non-self-publications, with units ranging from the Trout to the Scalzi to finally the Gaiman.
  • In The Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, the sequel to The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Dr. Dashwood is a sex researcher, whose scales are named after pornographic stars:
    "Sincerity we measure in Spelvins on a scale of zero to ten," Dashwood went on, totally absorbed in his subject. "Hedonism in Lovelaces-we've been lucky there; subjects are able to distinguish sixteen graduations. Finally, there's the dimension of Tenderness-we find zero to seven covers that, so that the perfect Steinem Job, if I may use the vernacular, would consist of ten Spelvins of Sincerity, sixteen Lovelaces of Hedonism, and seven Havens of Tenderness."
  • In Stanislaw Lem's short story Experimenta Felicitologica, the protagonist uses a unit he calls "hedones" to measure the happiness of a being at a given time. His professor uses a unit called "bromeons" for the same purpose.
  • America (The Book) book gauged the value of a news story in Buttafuocos.
  • According to Wit's poll at the end of Words Of Radiance, Shalan Davar is exactly 77% more agreeable than her mistress, Jasnah Kholin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • MST3K had the "shame-o-meter" for measuring the amount of shame emanating from washed-out actors in a 70s Charlie's Angels rip-off movie. It measured in (Peter) Lawfords. Jim Backus registered well into the giga-Lawford range.
  • One episode of The Colbert Report had Stephen rating Nazis on a scale of 1 to 10 Hitlers. Adolf Hitler himself got only 9 Hitlers because "nobody gets 10 Hitlers."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Rather common in roleplaying games featuring magic or anything like it. In Dungeons & Dragons your basic magical ability can come from Intelligence, which is at least something people seriously attempt to measure in real life, but also Wisdom, which has something to do with good moral sense, or maybe attunement to nature if you're a druid, or the ability to see the broad picture but anyway divination spells are based on it. The third potential stat tied to casting spells is Charisma, which is both the measure of one's force of will and how pretty they are.
  • Genius The Transgression has several different unit systems (most likely a reference to all the different temperature scales) to measure "mania".

    Video Games 
  • In Super Paper Mario, when Dimentio first brings the heroes to Dimension D, He believes that his power has increased by 256 times, though it actually increases everyone's power by that amount and he claims that he could obliterate the heroes with the amount of power it would take to lift an eyebrow.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama once had a device that measured coolness in mega-fonzies. There was also the funkometer for smells and a device that measured the accuracy of mad beats laid down by the Beastie Boys.
    • For the record, they were laying it down with an 80% Success rate.
    "I believe that qualifies as "ill," at least from a technical standpoint."
    • The What-If Machine can answer any what-if question accurate to within one tenth of a plausibility unit.
    • In "Xmas Story", the department store sells a jolly-seeking missile launcher as an anti-Santa defense.
    • It's stated in Bender's Big Score that a normal person emits about 10 millidooms per second. It becomes a plot point that duplicates created by the Time Sphere emit much larger quantities in order to prevent/correct paradoxes.
  • Phineas and Ferb has devices that cause similar effects, such as Phineas' Cute-Tracker (Isabella made it overload). Santa's elves also carry meters that measure people's relative niceness or naughtiness.

    Real Life 
  • The Hovind Scale measures the craziness of creationists. It was, of course, meant largely as a joke.
  • Fame is sometimes measured in Warhols. Someone who is famous for 15,000 minutes would have one kiloWarhol.
    • The Helen is a metric measurement of beauty, with 1 Helen of beauty being the amount of beauty required to launch a thousand ships. By extension, we can have a Kilohelen, which would be the amount of beauty required to launch a million ships, and a Millihelen - the amount of beauty required to launch a single ship.
  • NASA measures resistance to Space Adaptation Sickness in Garns, where a person who rates one Garn being totally useless in microgravity.
  • UNIX system load average is measured in Vastons, even though there's no meaningful or objective way to measure or compare load averages between systems.
  • When a Linux computer boots, it measures the performance of the processor it is running on in "BogoMIPS", defined as "the number of million times per second a processor can do absolutely nothing". This unit is explicitly meaningless for any kind of comparison between computers (although that doesn't stop people from boasting with their values); its only purpose is to calibrate the kernel's internal busy-loop.
  • The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) measures the total happiness over a span of time. It's nigh impossible to measure, but very important if you want to make sure your charity does a lot of good.
  • In an inversion; there are lots of legitimate units you could use to say how fast somebody can run but in UK sport most commentators go with the 'yard of pace'.
  • There's a common Facebook image macro that claims that the pain of a Groin Attack on a male is equivalent to the pain of many, many childbirths for a female, even offering an exact unit of measurement, e.g. 9000 del. Even though a "del" is not a recognized unit of measurement (pain isn't quantifiable except very generally, a la the 1-10 "scale") and even though the macro wasn't even remotely intended as serious, that hasn't stopped a lot of people from taking it as fact.

    Other 
  • The (sometimes) clever bits of wordplay known as "Sniglets" (as introduced by comedian Rich Hall on the '80s HBO program Not Necessarily the News) have featured a few of these, such as:
    BEVAMETER: The distance a drink coaster, attached to the bottom of a wet glass, will travel before it falls back to earth.
    CRAVAMETER: 3.72 inches, the proper distance between the ends of a tied tie.

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