Posted in History & Literature


There are millions of units for various things. Some are simple and standard like the metre and gram, while others are quirky and humorous like the Helen unit and the Banana Equivalent Dose. As long as you can justify it with logic and objective quantification, you can virtually create any unit. Using this logic, some historical knowledge and a cruel sense of humour, one can come up with an extremely disturbing unit called the Hitler unit.

As most people know, Adolf Hitler is one of the most notorious criminals against humanity in the history of mankind. He was responsible for the death of at least 17 million people, including the 6 million Jews and 5 million other ethnicities killed during the Holocaust, and victims of World War II. For simplicity’s sake, let us only consider the victims of the Holocaust as direct victims of Hitler’s ambitions.

Using this statistic, we can now create a new unit called the hitler – equivalent to 11 million human deaths. Ergo, killing a single human amounts to a crime of 91 nanohitlers. The “hitler level” of some of history’s worst notorious dictators are as follows:

  • Kim Il Sung: 1.6 million deaths = 145 millihitler
  • Pol Pot: 1.7 million deaths = 154 millihitler
  • Hideki Tojo: 5 million deaths = 455 millihitler
  • Adolf Hitler: 11 million deaths = 1 hitler
  • Jozef Stalin: 23 million deaths = 2.09 hitler
  • Mao Zedong: 78 million deaths = 7.09 hitler

The hitler unit gives us a clear picture of “how much worse” someone’s crimes are compared to those committed by Adolf Hitler. For example, Jozef Stalin could be considered twice more evil than Hitler.

The true utility of the hitler unit is that like other units, it allows for useful conversions to other units. For example, the EPA currently values a human life at $6.9 million (USD). A simple unit conversion thus tells us that 1 hitler is equivalent to the loss of $75,900,000,000,000 (-$75.9 teradollars). In 2008 when the US Congress failed to pass a stimulus bill following the subprime mortgage crisis, the market lost $1.2 trillion over one day – the equivalence to 15.8 millihitlers. Conversely, if a mugger took $200 from you, they have technically committed a crime of 2.64 picohitlers.

Although the crimes of Adolf Hitler were beyond tragic, this imaginary unit teaches us that almost anything can be quantified in the field of science and mathematics.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


Two psychologists, Bob Josephs and Pran Mehta, performed an interesting experiment studying the how extroverted and introverted people react differently to a rigged game. They told a pair of participants to play a game where they had to draw lines to connect numbers in sequence as they popped up in a grid. They also told them that it was to study their spatial awareness and intelligence. The pair were given the game in a competitive setting at the same time so one could tell if they were “winning” or not.
The grid could be easily rigged to determine who would win. Josephs and Mehta posited that men and women with high testosterone levels would have high confidence in their spatial awareness, while those with low testosterone would be the opposite. 
What they found was quite interesting.

When those with high confidence in their abilities lost a game, they were more distressed relative to when they won (as measure by their cortisol, a stress hormone, level). Those with low confidence were more distressed when they won a game.
Furthermore, after winning a game these participants would show a fall in their ability to reason and solve logic problems. 

The reason behind this perplexing result is likely to be a cause of “mismatch”. It has been hypothesised that human beings are very protective of their self-identity and when this is challenged, they try stubbornly to rationalise their identity even if it means a negative outcome. For example, a person who believes they are not creative will dress and act to show this trait, even if it means others will see him in a negative light.
In the case of the game, the participants were confused as they won the game when they believed they would do badly. 
This same effect has been found in studies looking at pay raises. Those with self-esteem issues are less likely to be satisfied with a raise as they feel that “they do not deserve it”. They are also more likely to quit after a raise rather than before. It is quite possible that this would also apply to students with low self-esteem, as they would expect lower grades and (subconsciously) actively achieve lower grades to satisfy their self-identity.