Abstract Scale

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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 20% 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 
  • Scouter readings for Power Levels in Dragon Ball don't seem to just quantifying stored energy, but 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. The author states they are just supposed to be measurements of raw power, and thus an unreliable oversimplification for determining fighting ability, but what's shown in-series speaks to the contrary.

    Blogs 
  • Deadcoders Reviews used Aelita as a measurement of Trauma and Hollywood as a measure of makeup.

    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".
  • In Team America: World Police, terrorist acts are measured in multiples of the September 11 World Trade Center attack. One upcoming terrorist event, if not stopped, would be "Nine Eleven times a hundred" ("basically all the worst parts of The Bible"). Another is "Nine Eleven times a thousand." 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."
  • In The Abyss, Hippie measures one of the encounters with the aliens as a 9.5 on the Sphincter Scale.

    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.
  • Discworld has the thaum, a basic unit of magical strength "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".
    • In later books, the thaum is regarded as a fundamental particle of magic rather than a unit, though they might happen to coincide.
  • 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.
  • Words of Radiance: According to Wit, Shalan Davar is exactly 77% more agreeable than her mistress, Jasnah Kholin. He took a poll.
    Jasnah: You're lying.
    Wit: Okay, so it was a rather informal poll. But the ugly lizard-crab-thing gave you really poor marks for—
    Jasnah: About the other things.
  • In The Bible Jesus refers to "faith as small as a mustard seed", implying faith is measured by volume.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 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."
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah has "What the Actual Fact?", a recurring segment in which correspondent Desi Lydic rates the Democrats' and Republicans' statements, based on how verifiably true they are. She's rated claims with "a Teletubby", "Chinese character tattoo at a strip mall", and "a hotel porn channel".

    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 - 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 personality and how pretty they are.
    • Certain spells, as well as the creation of magic items, require using materials "worth" a certain number of gold pieces, despite the value of resources (as well as the gold they are equivalent to) being relative and subjective. For instance, a Raise Dead spell requires 5000 gp worth of diamonds, so better hope a new diamond mine opening doesn't cause prices to drop! note 
  • 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 
  • An archon in The Order of the Stick measured evil in terms of kilo-nazis, with a baseline of a hypothetical offspring of Cruella de Vil and Sauron clocking in at an average of 5 (that means as evil as 5000 nazis). The person being discussed, Belkar, for comparison had his worst at around 3400 nazis before meeting his new friend and boss Roy.
    • Relating to the Dungeons & Dragons example above, an apprentice was sent to get some diamonds, and proudly reveals that they were on sale...only to be sent back for more, because the sale means they aren't "worth" enough to be a spell component.
  • Early on in Schlock Mercenary, there is frequent mention of an absolute system of measurement for pain in Kill-o-Hurtz. Various medical instruments are rated according to how much pain they inflict, as measured by the Ouchdammitometer. The concept hasn't been mentioned in a long time, however, as the Schlock Mercenary universe (if not the actual story) has become somewhat more "serious".
  • In Casey and Andy, Andy names the "fundamental unit of time travel" after himself (and the fundamental unit of stupid after Casey).
  • This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal measures anger in miliHulks, fear in deciPantscraps and awkwardness in microWeiners (all in the "votey", the red button).
  • MegaTokyo features a Magical Girl Detector that's calibrated in sparklogems, of course.
  • El Goonish Shive:
  • Questionable Content:
    • Gets this now and again with its odd Twenty Minutes In The Future setting; usually coming from Hannelore, who grew up on a space station. For example, the current arc's "Fournier-Goldman Happiness Transforms", which measure happiness (Marten makes an attempt at calculating Hannelore's happiness for her father's benefit, but he couldn't follow the material after it brought up Irrational Birthday Integers).
    • Faye in this installment claims to be a unit of measurement, but the formula is rather complex.
  • Paranatural has the international scale of creepy to measure PJ's smile.
  • One Achewood comic cites the made-up unit "the fermule" as "the basic unit of physics." One reader lampshades the silliness of this in the comments section: "That's right. Losing control of a 200 kg van on an icy road while traveling at 45 mph, skidding off a 45 degree turn and wrapping that van three times around a tree takes a total of 67 fermules of physics."
  • In Ansem Retort, a plan devised to get Zexion elected governor of Pennsylvania by getting his opposition murdered is measured by Zexion in Michael Corleones.

    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 musical talents of the Beastie Boys.
    Leela: Impressive! They're laying down mad rhymes with an 80% success rate.
    Bender: 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.
  • Adolf Hitler used to joke: "Do you know what is the difference between a goering and a goebbels? A goering is the amount of metal a man could pin on his chest and a goebbels is the amount of nonsense man could say in an hour." He often said the joke with both Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering present, to their great embarrassment.
  • 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.
  • Quality rating scales for films, games, restaurants, video games, apps, products, and so on.
  • In the field of psychology, it's possible to create a rating scale for pretty much any human trait, so researchers sometimes end up creating unusual and offbeat scales for things that they want to study but few others attempt to measure. There are widely used and thoroughly validated scales for things like personality and emotion, of course, and slightly more offbeat measures like how much of a morning person you are or how much you conform to your designated gender role, but also weirder things like enjoyment of some random consumer product, experiences with alien abduction, obedience to political leaders, correlations between creativity and psychoticism, etc. Psychologists who measure such bizarre constructs sometimes get the Hard on Soft Science treatment and/or It Will Never Catch On.

    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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