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Author Topic:   Carbon-14 Dating Debate Assistance Thread
Percy
Member
Posts: 22614
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 16 of 38 (468753)
06-01-2008 8:49 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by SqU1r3
05-31-2008 3:21 PM


Re: "Creationist Lies"
As was made incredibly clear at the trial after which Kent Hovind was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for tax fraud, Kent sincerely believes everything he says. I don't believe he lies in the sense of intentionally saying things he knows aren't true, but he has the ability to convince himself, really deeply convince himself, of the truth of anything he happens to believe. This is true of his belief that he has violated no law of the United States and has been unjustly imprisoned, and it is true of his belief that the world is only 6000 years old and, more specifically, that carbon dating doesn't work.
Time spent examining Hovind's views on scientific matters is not time well spent in my opinion because they are so spectacularly uninformed. I think the time would be better spent ignoring what Hovind says and just presenting the correct science. But many sincere Christians grasp onto his explanations because they see them as their only hope that science doesn't really contradict Christian beliefs about creation, the flood and so forth. For that reason it is important to respectfully but accurately, with no misrepresentation or error uncorrected, address what he says.
--Percy

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Coragyps
Member (Idle past 819 days)
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 17 of 38 (468754)
06-01-2008 9:07 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by Percy
06-01-2008 8:49 AM


Re: "Creationist Lies"
Hmmm. You have a point there, Percy. The man is possibly "more to be pitied than censured." He really could be that deeply delusional in most everything he does.
I'll try to cut him some slack in the future.

"The wretched world lies now under the tyranny of foolishness; things are believed by Christians of such absurdity as no one ever could aforetime induce the heathen to believe." - Agobard of Lyons, ca. 830 AD

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BeagleBob
Member (Idle past 5761 days)
Posts: 81
Joined: 11-21-2007


Message 18 of 38 (469826)
06-07-2008 9:40 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by SqU1r3
05-31-2008 3:21 PM


Re: "Creationist Lies"
Hovind, in multiple instances, expressed belief that sound is a wavelength of light.
He's not exactly a genuine authority on anything scientific.
As for the topic of radiometric dating, try including some information about Uranium-Lead dating. C14 can date things up to about 60,000 years old, while Uranium-Lead has an upper range of millions/billions of years. It also has a built-in double-check to improve its accuracy, and is less prone to contamination/variance issues than C14 dating is.

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cavediver
Member (Idle past 3727 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 19 of 38 (492532)
01-01-2009 7:55 AM


Bump for Peg to air her skepticism regarding carbon dating
As it was way off-topic where I was questioning her on it...

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Peg
Member (Idle past 5014 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 20 of 38 (492537)
01-01-2009 8:30 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by cavediver
01-01-2009 7:55 AM


Re: Bump for Peg to air her skepticism regarding carbon dating
it looks like i am not alone in my skepticism of C14 dating
... my question is why would you proclaim my ignorance when others here express similar sentiments??? Is it more acceptable coming from a fellow evolutionist or something?
quote:
...less prone to contamination/variance issues than C14 dating is
Edited by Peg, : No reason given.

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 Message 28 by Otto Tellick, posted 01-02-2009 12:29 AM Peg has replied

  
JonF
Member (Idle past 252 days)
Posts: 6174
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 21 of 38 (492545)
01-01-2009 9:10 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Peg
01-01-2009 8:30 AM


Re: Bump for Peg to air her skepticism regarding carbon dating
No, it's just that it's true the U-Pb dating is less prone to contamination/variance issues than C14 dating is. It is not true that all C14 dates older than 6,000-10,000 years are wrong, nor is it true that all U-Pb dates are wrong. Therefore YECs are wrong about the age of the Earth and life.
You might reflect upon the fact that contamination invariably makes C14 dates wrong by making them appear younger than they really are ... so what does a C14 date of 40,000 years mean?

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lyx2no
Member (Idle past 4800 days)
Posts: 1277
From: A vast, undifferentiated plane.
Joined: 02-28-2008


Message 22 of 38 (492546)
01-01-2009 9:12 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Peg
01-01-2009 8:30 AM


Popularity Isn't Prophylactic Against False Belief
... my question is why would you proclaim my ignorance when others here express similar sentiments???
Non-responsive: Please list and defend a couple of reasons to believe that carbon dating is inaccurate for more than a few percentage point at establishing absolute dates.
Is it more acceptable coming from a fellow evolutionist or something?
As well as being insulting to the integrity of others, it wastes bandwidth and gets us no closer to an answer.
BeagleBob's statement does not say that carbon dating is unreliable” your assertion ” only that U-Pb has built-in double checks and that carbon dating has more sources for possible error than U-Pb dating. That this is acknowledged means possible source of error can be taken into account, restoring accuracy.
Claiming that RC dating is unreliable is like saying pacing off a distance is more prone to error than tape measure so the results of pacing could be off by orders of magnitude.

Don't do that Dave.

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1489 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 23 of 38 (492561)
01-01-2009 10:54 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Peg
01-01-2009 8:30 AM


Overview of C-14 for Peg to aid her skepticism regarding reports of "unreliability"
Hey Peg, happy new year.
it looks like i am not alone in my skepticism of C14 dating
Nor are you alone in your ignorance of C-14 methodology. The popularity of an opinion has no relation to the validity of an opinion. This is known as the logical fallacy of popularity.
Popularity does not validate your skepticism nor challenge C14 dating. The question is if you are equally skeptical of the people telling you that C14 is "unreliable"?
... my question is why would you proclaim my ignorance when others here express similar sentiments??? Is it more acceptable coming from a fellow evolutionist or something?
What people think is irrelevant. What you want to look at is the science and how carbon 14 dating is done properly, what the assumptions are, how those assumptions are tested, and how the system is validated.
Message 11
you're right
i dont trust carbon dating...not one little bit
As this subject is not about the accuracy or 'inaccuracy' of carbon dating though, i wont be going into it... nor do i need to be an expert to be skeptical.
No, you don't need to be an expert to be skeptical, but real skepticism is equally skeptical of those that tell you it is unreliable. Otherwise you are claiming skepticism as a crutch for denial. What you want to use is open-minded skepticism.
You also do not need to be an expert to understand carbon-14 dating, you just need to be interested in the truth.
When you look at claims that C-14 is unreliable you see claims of false ages for certain samples. To be able to judge the validity of those statements you need to understand how carbon-14 works and where the C-14 comes from.
This is an excellent site that goes through the basics:
How Carbon-14 Dating Works | HowStuffWorks
and you don't need anything more than a high-school education to understand it.
quote:
How Carbon-14 is Made
Cosmic rays enter the earth's atmosphere in large numbers every day. For example, every person is hit by about half a million cosmic rays every hour. It is not uncommon for a cosmic ray to collide with an atom in the atmosphere, creating a secondary cosmic ray in the form of an energetic neutron, and for these energetic neutrons to collide with nitrogen atoms. When the neutron collides, a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons). Carbon-14 is radioactive, with a half-life of about 5,700 years.
Note that this is atmospheric carbon. Note that the half-life is short, and that without replenishment of C-14 by cosmic radiation that the level of C-14 would quickly (~50kyr) fall to unmeasurable levels.
Carbon-14 dating only works when the source of C-14 is known well enough to assume initial levels, such as trees taking carbon from the atmosphere, thereby absorbing the C-14 mixed with other carbon (C-12 and C-13) atoms in the atmosphere.
quote:
Carbon-14 in Living Things
The carbon-14 atoms that cosmic rays create combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis. Animals and people eat plants and take in carbon-14 as well. The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant. Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14. The carbon-14 atoms are always decaying, but they are being replaced by new carbon-14 atoms at a constant rate. At this moment, your body has a certain percentage of carbon-14 atoms in it, and all living plants and animals have the same percentage.
Living organisms have the same ratio of C-14 to C-12 as their source of carbon. When that source is the atmosphere, they have the same level as the atmosphere has while they are living.
quote:
Dating a Fossil
As soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 at the moment of death is the same as every other living thing, but the carbon-14 decays and is not replaced. The carbon-14 decays with its half-life of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant in the sample. By looking at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of a formerly living thing fairly precisely.
Thus by measuring the ratio of C-14 to C-12 in a sample and comparing it to the ratio of C-14 to C-12 today, the age of the sample can be estimated by the relative amount of decay of the C-14 atome.
Scientists also know common sources of error. See
Corrections to radiocarbon dates.
for the most common sources.
Note that one source of error is caused by taking samples from organic material that did not get carbon from the atmosphere, but from other sources. Marine samples are known to have different carbon sources from land samples for instance, and the atmospheric C-14 does not mix into water to the same ratio as in the air. This is known as a "reservoir effect" where the atmosphere and the ocean are "reservoirs" with different base ratios of C-14 to C-12. Once a reservoir C-14/C-12 ratio has been measured, the data can be corrected for this effect. Scientists publish this information here.
You see many creationist claims that C-14 is "unreliable" because marine organisms, or organisms that feed on marine life, have "too old" C-14 dates. The educated skeptic will understand that such claims are lies, as they misrepresent a sample from a marine source of carbon as being from an atmospheric source of carbon.
Also note another known source of error is that radioactivity can create C-14. This is why atmospheric C-14 spiked during above ground testing of bombs. This is also how C-14 is produced in the carbon rods used to control nuclear reactors, eventually reducing the effectiveness of the rods, so they are continually replaced.
You can also find creationist claims that C-14 is "unreliable" because oil, coal, diamonds have "too young" C-14 ages. What they don't tell you here is that (a) the levels found are at the threshold of detectability, and (b) the samples come from rocks with measurable radioactivity. The educated skeptic will understand that such claims misrepresent a sample from a radioactive source of carbon-14 as being from an atmospheric source of carbon-14.
Finally, note that another source of error is the variance of C-14 in the atmosphere due to varying cosmic ray levels and varying solar activity. Scientists have known this since the introduction of the method, and they have found ways to determine this error. This is a correlation curve of C-14 dates with actual dates known from counting tree rings:
Note that the real age is actually older than the calculated C-14 age, so the typical measurement error is for the objects to consistently date younger than they actually are.
This is a correlation curve of C-14 dates with actual dates known from counting lake varves:
Note that the tree ring data is shown as the green line at the beginning of this data, and that this data extends to the limits of practical C-14 dating. Note how this data continues the trend shown previously with real ages being older that the ones calculated by the C-14 method. Note that you can see an effect of change in C-14 atmospheric levels at ~30kyr ago.
Finally, this is a correlation curve of C-14 dates with actual dates known from a number of sources, some of them from marine samples that have been corrected for the marine resevoir effect:
Notice how the other correlations have the same pattern at ~30kyr as the lake varves.
Notice that there are variations about the mean for this curve, and that this is the amount of uncertainty that is involved with C-14 dating.
Having known degrees of variation about a mean does not make a method "unreliable" as all these different correlations reliably produced the same results. The degrees of variation mean that we have margins of error with this method, and this is one of the reasons you will see dates with max/min boundaries or mean+/-errors.
The error shown here is less than 10% on average. Certainly realiable enough to know that measurements of objects 30,000 years old are much older than 6000 years.
Enjoy.
Edited by RAZD, : clarity, added link to reservoir data

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
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Replies to this message:
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Coyote
Member (Idle past 2190 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 24 of 38 (492567)
01-01-2009 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by RAZD
01-01-2009 10:54 AM


Re: Overview of C-14 for Peg to aid her skepticism regarding reports of "unreliability"
Good overview.
Here are some good links that may also help:

ReligiousTolerance.org Carbon-14 Dating (C-14): Beliefs of New-Earth Creationists
[b]Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective by Dr. Roger C. Wiens.
This site, BiblicalChronologist.org has a series of good articles on radiocarbon dating.

Are tree-ring chronologies reliable? (The Biblical Chronologist, Vol. 5, No. 1)
How does the radiocarbon dating method work? (The Biblical Chronologist, Vol. 5, No. 1)
How precise is radiocarbon dating?
Is radiocarbon dating based on assumptions?
Has radiocarbon dating been invalidated by unreasonable results?
Tree Ring and C14 Dating
Radiocarbon WEB-info Radiocarbon Laboratory, University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Radiocarbon -- full text of issues, 1959-2003.

Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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lyx2no
Member (Idle past 4800 days)
Posts: 1277
From: A vast, undifferentiated plane.
Joined: 02-28-2008


Message 25 of 38 (492577)
01-01-2009 2:36 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by RAZD
01-01-2009 10:54 AM


A Short Aside
and you don't need anything more than a high-school education to understand it.
One doesn't need as much as a high-school education to understand it.
However, you state this is atmospheric radio carbon. Would one use a different baseline for the ocean or a lake? To keep it short, just point me to a site; I can take it from there.
Edited by lyx2no, : Grammar

Don't do that Dave.

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JonF
Member (Idle past 252 days)
Posts: 6174
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 26 of 38 (492578)
01-01-2009 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by Coyote
01-01-2009 11:45 AM


Re: Overview of C-14 for Peg to aid her skepticism regarding reports of "unreliability"
This site, BiblicalChronologist.org has a series of good articles on radiocarbon dating
It's worth pointing out that the biblical Chronologist is Dr. Gerald Aardsma, formerly of the ICR and still a YEC of sorts ... but one of the few YECs who doesn't just ignore or handwave-away the evidence.
Edited by JonF, : No reason given.

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1489 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 27 of 38 (492621)
01-01-2009 7:16 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by lyx2no
01-01-2009 2:36 PM


Re: A Short Aside - marine reservoirs
hey lyx2no,
However, you state this is atmospheric radio carbon. Would one use a different baseline for the ocean or a lake? To keep it short, just point me to a site; I can take it from there.
Corrections to radiocarbon dates.
quote:
One of the most commonly referenced reservoir effects concerns the ocean. The average difference between a radiocarbon date of a terrestrial sample such as a tree, and a shell from the marine environment is about 400 radiocarbon years (see Stuiver and Braziunas, 1993). This apparent age of oceanic water is caused both by the delay in exchange rates between atmospheric CO2 and ocean bicarbonate, and the dilution effect caused by the mixing of surface waters with upwelled deep waters which are very old (Mangerud 1972). A reservoir correction must therefore be made to any conventional shell dates to account for this difference. Reservoir corrections for the world oceans can be found at the Marine Reservoir Correction Database, a searchable database online at Queen's University, Belfast and the University of Washington. Human bone may be a problematic medium for dating in some instances due to human consumption of fish, whose C14 label will reflect the ocean reservoir. In such a case, it is very difficult to ascertain the precise reservoir difference and hence apply a correction to the measured radiocarbon age.
The same would hold true for the 1300 C-14 yr seal sample from McMurdo Sound used by creationists (google: McMurdo Sound Seal C-14)
Scientists publish this reservoir information here.
It's a pretty cool interactive site. You can click Antarctica near McMurdo sound (edge of map), for instance (where the YEC seal sample was taken), and find out that the "reservoir age" is about 1000 years, so any uncorrected sample taken today would calculate out at ~1000 years older than it is.
Enjoy

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 2415 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 28 of 38 (492652)
01-02-2009 12:29 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Peg
01-01-2009 8:30 AM


Re: Bump for Peg to air her skepticism regarding carbon dating
Hi Peg,
I'm jumping in here (even though I'm not a practitioner of radiometric dating) because I felt that the other replies to your post didn't properly address what I think is the main problem with this question you posed:
Peg writes:
... why would you proclaim my ignorance when others here express similar sentiments?...
quote:
...less prone to contamination/variance issues than C14 dating is
The problem is that the "others" you just quoted there were not expressing a "sentiment" that is at all similar to yours. If I am misunderstanding your actual sentiment, please forgive (and correct) me, but as I've read your various posts about your mistrust of radiometric dating techniques, you consider the resulting dates to be unacceptable when they turn out to be far older (up to 50,000 years for C14 dating) than a certain "maximum possible age for anything/everything," which has been inferred on the basis of a particular interpretation of the Book of Genesis (an interpretation that many Jewish and Christian believers do not accept).
The person you quoted does not share that position. Surely you must have noticed that BeagleBob was recommending another RM dating method that can go much farther back in time with better reliability. But you didn't quote that part, because (I assume) it is even more incompatible with your sentiment.
Some use the term "quote mining" for what you tried to do here -- it's a form of dishonesty in which you misrepresent what someone else has said by taking a short phrase out of context. It fails miserably (and backfires severely) when readers have access to the original text that was quote-mined (obviously true in this case).
I hope you'll find the time to follow and understand the links and information that RAZD and Coyote have presented about how C14 dating actually works. (As a non-expert on this topic, I found it all to be very helpful.) And I hope this will lead you to reconsider the (de)merits of the particular interpretation of Genesis you've been trying to maintain so far (consider that there may be better ways of understanding what was written there).
At the very least, I hope you'll give up on trying to use dishonesty to support your position.

autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

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Peg
Member (Idle past 5014 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 29 of 38 (492657)
01-02-2009 1:05 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Otto Tellick
01-02-2009 12:29 AM


Re: Bump for Peg to air her skepticism regarding carbon dating
ok so i've read everyones reply's and i thank you all for attempting to show me the light
I did not attempt to be dishonest and take beaglebob out of context. He wrote that there is a better dating method then C14 because it was not affected by variances
i think you will find one of my previous posts also mentioned the variances as a problem in C14 dating which is why i pointed out that it was not just some crazy idea i got in my head so i could hold onto my precious creationist theories, others also recognise variences as a problem for C14 dating... if thats not what he meant, then perhaps he could elaborate?
2ndly I am not a YEC and do not have a problem with the age of old homosapien/erectus etc or even that these exist. I merely doubt that they are human.

This message is a reply to:
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Coyote
Member (Idle past 2190 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 30 of 38 (492662)
01-02-2009 1:19 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by Peg
01-02-2009 1:05 AM


Re: Bump for Peg to air her skepticism regarding carbon dating
others also recognise variences as a problem for C14 dating...
Because of atmospheric variation, there are some potential errors that could creep into radiocarbon dates. Charts showing the magnitude of this variation were posted above. It doesn't amount to much and all of the major laboratories provide both the measured or conventional ages (raw measurements) as well as the calibrated age, which corrects for this variation. (The conventional age is also corrected for C13, but you don't need to worry about that; its just another minor correction that improves accuracy.)
So what are your concerns with this dating method?

Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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