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Talk:Radioactive dating

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Archive 1 (Sun. 5th August, 2012Sun. August 5th, 2012)

Contents

Carbon-14 in deeply buried carbon

This topic has not been exhaustively covered. The Wikipedia article WP:Carbon-14#In_fossil_fuels read thus:

Most man-made chemicals are made of fossil fuels, such as petroleum or coal, in which the carbon-14 should have long since decayed. However, such deposits often contain trace amounts of carbon-14 (varying significantly, but ranging from 1% the ratio found in living organisms to amounts comparable to an apparent age of 40,000 years for oils with the highest levels of carbon-14).<ref>D.C. Lowe, "Problems Associated with the Use of Coal as a Source of 14C Free Background Material," Radiocarbon, 1989, 31:117-120</ref> This may indicate possible contamination by small amounts of bacteria, underground sources of radiation causing the 14N(n,p) 14C reaction, direct uranium decay (although reported measured ratios of 14C/U in uranium-bearing ores<ref>{{cite journal|title =Carbon-14 Abundances in Uranium Ores and Possible Spontaneous Exotic Emission from U-Series Nuclides|last = Jull|first = A.J.T.|coauthors =Barker, D., Donahue, D. J.|journal = Meteorics|volume = 20 |month=12|year=1985|pages=676}} ([http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1985Metic..20..676J abstract])</ref> would imply roughly 1 uranium atom for every two carbon atoms in order to cause the 14C/12C ratio, measured to be on the order of 10−15), or other unknown secondary sources of carbon-14 production. Presence of carbon-14 in the isotopic signature of a sample of carbonaceous material possibly indicates its contamination by biogenic sources or the decay of radioactive material in surrounding geologic strata. In connection with building the Borexino solar neutrino observatory, petroleum feedstock (for synthesizing the primary scintillant) was obtained with low 14C content. In the Borexino Counting Test Facility, a 14C/12C ratio of 1.94x10−18 was determined;<ref>{{cite journal|doi = 10.1016/S0370-2693(97)01565-7|title = Measurement of the <sup>14</sup>C abundance in a low-background liquid scintillator|last = Alimonti|first = G.|coauthors =et al.|journal = Physics Letters B|volume = 422 |issue=1-4 |year=1998|pages=349–358}}([http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0370-2693(97)01565-7 abstract])</ref> reactions responsible for varied levels of 14C in different petroleum reservoirs, and the lower 14C levels in methane, have been discussed by Bonvicini et al.<ref>Bonvicini, G, Harris, N and Paolone, V, "The chemical history of <sup>14</sup>C in deep oilfields", Aug 2003. ({{arXiv|hep-ex|0308025v2}})</ref>

I'm aware that WP is not ideal as a primary reference, but considering the number of editors involved in that article, I think we can take it into consideration until we have reason to doubt it. The tone of what is written there suggests that it is generally accepted that C-14 in fossil fuels really exists intrinsically, in addition to any contamination related to the measurement process. Before we can say much more in our article, somebody will have to track down a few of these references. --Awc 10:24, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm not clear on what you are suggesting needs to be covered better. Our article already mentions the existence of "too much" C14 in coal, etc., as well as mentioning the excuses secular scientists have come up for it (despite these not holding water). The WP article essentially just makes a bigger deal out of these excuses, whilst failing to even mention the possibility of them indicating that the coal is not as old as they believe. It's a pathetic attempt to explain away the evidence against long ages. Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 02:41, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm not saying we need to go into more detail, just that it is a complex topic where we could go into more detail, and that Wikipedia gives a number of references that would be helpful pointers if someone wants to take up the chase. I don't know why you think it is so easy to eliminate the possibility of contamination of one sort or another at the 10-15 level, but if you can accept the current version, then we don't need to spend time on that question right now. --Awc 07:43, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't accept the current version, and I'm going to revert it (I've looked to see if I can salvage anything, but I don't think I can). Essentially, your changes did what mainstream geologists do: find excuses for ages that don't fit their views, whilst accepting the accuracy of ages that do fit their views.
I don't see why the following sentence from the article is true: "This would require that carbon-14 be exempt from the general acceleration of decay rates believed to have occured during the Flood". The C14 dates are too old for the flood, which can be explained by accelerated decay.
The extended quote from Plimer (via Sarfati) is not needed. The point of including it here is to show that even Plimer accepts that some dating methods can give incorrect results. The extension just includes his excuses for this, which are irrelevant to the fact that he admits that they are incorrect. (Sarfati provides the extended quote because he's using it to make a different point to that being made in this section of the article, and that is the excuses offered for incorrect dates.)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 00:18, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't see why the following sentence from the article is true Then think about it. The ratios of isotopes measured for many decay chains in many rock samples is consistent with decay for billions of years at the present rates. Creationists explain this by an increase in the decay rates by very roughly a factor of a billion during the flood year. If this factor also applied to pre-flood carbon now found in diamonds and coal, then the half-life of that carbon-14 during the flood would have been only few minutes. The levels of carbon-14 before the flood could not have been dramatically higher than they are today without becoming the dominant health risk to Noah and his cohorts, but if the pre-flood fraction were 50%, it would only have to be exposed to the accelerated decay rate for a few hours before it contained less carbon-14 than that measured in deep carbon today. —Awc 13:44, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
The extended quote from Plimer (via Sarfati) is not needed. The point of including it here is to show that even Plimer accepts that some dating methods can give incorrect results. The extension just includes his excuses for this So much for the principle of including (in appropriate, not excessive, detail) not just what the others believe, but also why they believe it. —Awc 21:08, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
Essentially, your changes did what mainstream geologists do: find excuses ... Without some criteria to distinguish excuses from valid reasons, and specific application of those criteria to the content at hand, this argument amounts to I just don't like it or a thought-terminating cliché. You make exactly one specific argument for changing the section on "excess" C14, namely, I don't see why the following sentence from the article is true, which I have responded to in my previous post. Furthermore, there are a number of reasons that my version is better, including these:
  • I try to distinguish between observations (the level of C14 found in various carbon repositories) and interpretations (Creationists: The carbon can't be that old; Evolutionists: There must be another source of C14.), something you usually like to emphasize.
  • I inform the reader of the evolutionist interpretations. Whether they are right or wrong is secondary.
  • I give the reader an indication of the consequences of the creationist interpretation (though not enough yet).
  • I provide more background and context, e.g. on the C14/C12 ratios in various samples.
I think I can improve my version by tweaking in a couple places, but the above arguments are sufficient to warrant a return to my version. —Awc 12:00, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Regarding C-14 decay, you are assuming a blanket rate change that affects everything equally. But this assumption may well not be true. Uranium (U-238) decays to thorium 234 via alpha decay (emitting a helium atom), with a half-life of 4,460 million years. The RATE project studied this sort of decay by measuring how much helium was retained in the rocks. C-14 decays by beta-negative decay. This is two different processes, with two different underlying mechanisms. Perhaps accelerated decay affected alpha decay much more than beta decay? If it didn't affect beta decay at all, then the sentence "This would require that carbon-14 be exempt from the general acceleration of decay rates believed to have occured during the Flood" would still be misleading as it implies that C-14 is a special case, whereas it may be that C-14 is different to some other elements because it undergoes beta-negative decay rather than alpha decay. If you look at the U-238 decay chain[1], you will see that not only is the first step is the only one with a huge half-life, but all the half-lives over 22.3 years are alpha-decay. So if, just for the sake of argument, only alpha decay was accelerated, you could still get that billion-fold acceleration for uranium, and no decay for carbon, without carbon being a special case. Another possibility is that both types of decay are affected, but not by the same amount.
Now perhaps I know little enough about this that the argument above is completely untenable, but at the moment that seems a reasonable enough case that we can't dogmatically assert that C-14 decay must have been a special case.
So much for the principle of including (in appropriate, not excessive, detail) not just what the others believe, but also why they believe it. That was in a different context than we are discussing here. That was to do with articles about topics, not mentions in other topics. This is not an article about Plimer's views.
Without some criteria to distinguish excuses from valid reasons, and specific application of those criteria to the content at hand, this argument amounts to I just don't like it or a thought-terminating cliché. I would have thought that the criterion was obvious: are the answers valid? You're right that I didn't apply that criterion to the content, but then neither did you. You simply gave mainstream explanations without any assessment of their validity. One of the lines in the article was "Potential sources of this carbon-14 contemplated by secular geologists include contamination by bacteria and production in situ from nitrogen by background radiation." Even as written, this amounts to speculation, not "valid reason". Also, it ignores the rebuttals to such speculation. I therefore believe that I'm justified in calling them excuses, not valid reasons.
I try to distinguish between observations … and interpretations … something you usually like to emphasize. My version had "Coal, considered to be hundreds of millions of years old, still retains some C14, indicating that it is less than 100,000 years old." Apart from the background information (the mainstream age), that has the observation ("still retains some C14"), and the "interpretation" ("it is less than 100,000 years old"), with the latter being clearly marked as a deduction rather than observation by the linking words, "indicating that". You changed this to the following:
  • "Carbon-14 makes up about 1 part in 1012 of the carbon in the atmosphere. Levels on the order of 1 part in 1015 can be precisely measured with state-of-the art mass spectrometer systems…"
—background information that is irrelevant here except to provide a basis for the next bit.
If you would prefer, we could express all the concentrations as "equivalent C-14 age". I am uncertain whether or not it is helpful to mention the concentrations explicitly. The real question is to what level can concentrations be reliably measured. —Awc 08:09, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
  • "…although at that level it is difficult to rule out contamination during the processing and measurement."
—introducing doubt about whether the information that follows carries much weight.
I considered removing this, but I can't find any source that contradicts it. —Awc 08:09, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
  • "Nevertheless, it appears that the purest sources of carbon occurring in the crust of the Earth, including diamonds and deeply buried coal, have levels corresponding to ages of 40,000 to 100,000 years…"
—The word "appears" has the effect (if it's not actually intended) of introducing more doubt about observations.
I am no longer so sure of this. The concentration due to underground radioactivity may be close to 100,000 years equivalent, but I don't think it can be ruled out that contamination and measurement errors can produce equivalent ages as low as 40,000 years. The observation is that these ratios pop out of the measurement. At these levels, it starts to be a matter of interpretation whether the C-14 comes from the sample or somewhere else. —Awc 08:09, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
  • "…assuming that the concentration was originally near that found in the modern atmosphere, and that the carbon-14 has decayed continuously with the current 5730 year half-life."
—As these are normal assumptions used to reach the tens-of-thousands-of-years ages, and the assumptions are not being disputed in this context (i.e. the context that they are used to get those ages), this only serves to obfuscate by adding unnecessary wording.
I only included this because I thought the creationists would want it be be kept in mind that they challenge both of these assumptions. It can be removed. —Awc 08:09, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
  • "There have also been reports of apparent radiocarbon ages between 30,000 and 45,000 years for pieces of wood found embedded in basalt and sandstone, although in those cases contamination during geologically recent contact with the biosphere or handling of the samples could easily be more severe than in the cases of diamonds and coal."
—"have also been reports" again introduces doubt about observations. The bit about contamination is worded in a way that also serves to introduce doubt. You could say that diamonds are less susceptible to contamination, or that wood is more susceptible. Most dating is done on things more like the wood, so that is the standard against which other cases should be compared. So saying that diamonds are less susceptible than typical materials is valid, whereas saying that wood is more susceptible than something that is less susceptible than typical materials serves to introduce doubt.
I certainly am sorry if recounting the facts has "introduced doubt" into your world.
Would you prefer a wording more along the lines of, "Apparent radiocarbon ages between 30,000 and 45,000 years have been found ..."?
Would you prefer to turn it around this way? "Radiocarbon dating of typical materials like wood can become unreliable for radiocarbon ages of 30,000 to 45,000 years and more due to contamination during geologically recent contact with the biosphere or handling of the samples. Such ages have been found for pieces of wood found embedded in basalt and sandstone. With careful handling, the probability of this type of contamination is greatly reduced for sample materials like coal and diamonds."
—Awc 08:09, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
I inform the reader of the evolutionist interpretations. Whether they are right or wrong is secondary. I have no problem with that in principle. The problem I have is with (implicitly) giving reasonable weight to speculation and excuses.
Do you mean speculation like whether C14/C12 ratios of below one part in 1015 can be reliably measured? —Awc 08:09, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 08:16, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
I think I can bring myself to make some changes that move in that direction. Give me time to do that, then we can see how much disagreement is left over. —Awc 09:49, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
I'll respond to your comments about acceleration of alpha vs. beta decay, too. For now I'll just mention that rubidium-strontium dating is based on the beta decay of 87Rb to 87Sr with a halflife of 48.8 billion years. —Awc 09:59, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
Why make changes? Why not simply revert to my version? What was wrong with that? Given that I've answered your reasons for your changes, there is no reason not to revert to my version.
I was afraid that you'd come up with an example of slow beta decay. I did have a bit of a look myself, but I knew it wasn't a hard look, and I didn't try rubidium. There was one point, however, that I forgot to mention. Humphreys writes in the RATE book, "Alpha (α)-decay of nuclei is fairly well understood. …Unfortunately, β-decay does not seem to be nearly as well-understood at a fundamental level as α-decay is." (p.357 and 362). They may be other distinguishing factors affecting beta decay differentially that we are not yet aware of.
I guess the bottom line is that your general point about carbon dating not being affected like other dating methods is fair, but the wording overstated it. It doesn't require that only carbon dating be different (i.e. perhaps different decay chains were accelerated differently according to some factor, such as alpha-decay vs. beta-decay), and it doesn't require carbon dating to be completely exempt from the acceleration, only affected differently.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 23:30, 23 June 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry I didn't get to this this weekend. (Believe it or not I was at a church retreat.) Soon. —Awc 20:07, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
Still no time yet, but let me throw down these references here, which I haven't evaluated yet, so they don't get lost:
  • Abstract: "The 14C/12C ratio in 4.8 m3 of high-purity liquid scintillator was measured at (1.94±0.09)×10−18, the lowest 14C abundance ever measured. ... Possible origins of the 14C in the liquid scintillator are discussed."
  • "Trace concentrations of 14C are usually measured with accelerator mass spectroscopy (AMS). The sensitivity of this technique is limited by sample preparation at the 10−15 level [4], corresponding to a radiocarbon age of about 60,000 years. In one atypical measurement, CO samples were prepared from purified methane from a natural gas well and underwent an enrichment process to potentially increase the 14C/12C isotope ratio. When analyzed with AMS at the IsoTrace Laboratory in Toronto, Canada, by comparing with blank values, an upper limit of <1.6×10−18 was obtained [5]."
  • "In the case of liquid scintillators, sensitivities better than 10−18 can be achieved by direct measurement of the β− decay of 14C. This is only possible if the scintillation detector has a mass of several tons and is constructed with stringent requirements on the selection of materials with low radioactivity (high radiopurity)."
  • "Sensitivities for the 14C/12C ratio in the 10−19 range were achievable. The CTF is the only instrument presently available that is capable of measuring the 14C abundance in a petroleum-derived scintillator."
  • "Production of 14C deep underground can occur through nuclear reactions involving neutrons and α particles emitted by the surrounding natural radioactivity. The neutron flux deep underground originates chiefly from (α,n) reactions [15]on Al, Mg, Na and other elements in the surrounding rock. The uranium and thorium decay chains supply most of these α decays (neutrons are also emitted in spontaneous fission of uranium). Consequently, it is the abundance of uranium and thorium in the rock containing the petroleum that governs the abundance of 14C therein."
  • "The reactions expected to contribute the most to 14C production in deep underground geological formations are [16], [17] and [18]
1. 17O(n,α)14C
2. 14N(n,p)14C
3. 13C(n,γ)14C
4. 11B(α,n)14C
5. direct 14C emission from tripartition of 226Ra
with the reactions listed in order of importance for production in typical underground ores (and with the significance of the fourth reaction strongly dependent on the boron content of the material being considered)."
  • "As a rough estimate of the 14C/12C ratio in petroleum, consider ... this would give an isotopic ratio for 14C/12C in the petroleum of ∼5×10−21.
  • "A crude estimate of the abundance of 14C in petroleum cannot account for the level observed in our scintillator. We conclude that it is likely that samples from different petroleum sources and variations in processing techniques might impact the 14C isotopic abundance found in liquid scintillators."
  • (Three potential contamination paths are discussed, without drawing a firm conclusion identifying or ruling any of them out.)
  • (This paper seems to represent the state of the art.)
  • "Schoenert and Resconi[4] have provided a first understanding of the r value in petroleum, and this work builds on their. They have identified the 14N(n,p) 14C reaction as the main source of 14C, they have modeled the dependence of r on the uranium content of the rock and the nitrogen content of the petroleum, and they have predicted a r range of 10−16 − 10−20."
  • "Schoenert and Resconi[4] first pointed out that the nitrogen content of oilfields is much higher than normal crustal rock (a nominal content of 5% is chosen in their analysis[4], a factor of 2.5 higher than that in Ref.[7]), and that as a result the reaction 14N(n,p) 14C is the dominant one in oilfields. If that is the case, then r in petroleum is regulated by three main factors:
  • the neutron emission intensity
  • the neutron absorption by nuclei other than 14N
  • the 14N concentration"
—Awc 15:41, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
Commentary on the first two references added by —Awc 12:22, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Let's see if we can pull it together.

14C/12C percent
modern
carbon
equivalent
radiocarbon
age (years)
significance source
10-12 100 0 present value
10-15 0.1 60,000 sensitivity limit of accelerator mass spectroscopy Borexino Collaboration
10-19 0.00001 140,000 potential sensitivity of large liquid scintillator experiments Borexino Collaboration
10-16 — 10-20 0.01 — 0.000001 80,000 — 160,000 predicted range for petroleum due to natural radioactivity Beukens
5×10-14 — 5×10-15 5 — 0.5 25,000 — 45,000 unpublished measurements on coal, for which no precautions were taken to prevent bacterial contamination Lowe
10-18 0.0001 120,000 measurement with large liquid scintillator Borexino Collaboration

Still more resources:

What's missing is typical or extreme measurements on fossil carbon that has been stored in a dry nitrogen atmosphere between mining (from a deep field) and the measurement. To make the creationist case, you would need such a measurement with an apparent age less than about 80,000 years, including an analysis of the level of C-14 to be expected given the chemical composition of the deposit, a description of the precautions taken to prevent contamination of any kind between mining and measurement, and a proof that the instrumentation and procedure is capable of detecting a lower level than that seen. Until that day (I won't hold my breath), I should get back to my daytime job.

(I am making continual changes to this section. I hope that's not too confusing. —Awc 12:02, 27 June 2012 (UTC))

An excellent source — detailed, clear, relevant, well sourced, written by an expert:

I was going to make some comments about the difficulty of formulating a self-consistent young-Earth explanation of C-14 levels in fossil carbon, but actually the question is moot. There is no anomaly to explain. (Within the creationist model, even if all the antediluvian C-14 decayed to zero during the Flood, in situ radioactivity since the Flood would have raised the C-14/C-12 ratio to a reasonable fraction of the equilibrium value, so the available data on this issue cannot be used as an argument against creationism either.) —Awc 07:41, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

If you would prefer, we could express all the concentrations as "equivalent C-14 age". I am uncertain whether or not it is helpful to mention the concentrations explicitly. The real question is to what level can concentrations be reliably measured. My point was that it doesn't need to be covered here at all.
I considered removing this, but I can't find any source that contradicts it. I didn't say that it was wrong. I said that it merely serves to introduce doubt. It simply doesn't need to be in this part of the article.
I am no longer so sure of this. The concentration due to underground radioactivity may be close to 100,000 years equivalent, but I don't think it can be ruled out that contamination and measurement errors can produce equivalent ages as low as 40,000 years. You think that ages as low as 40,000 years can be explained by contamination and measurement errors because you don't want to accept the explanation that the diamonds are not that old. That's not a good reason.
The observation is that these ratios pop out of the measurement. At these levels, it starts to be a matter of interpretation whether the C-14 comes from the sample or somewhere else. Those two sentences contradict each other. Is it an "observation", or a "matter of interpretation"? If the latter (which is the case), it's an ad hoc explanation for ages that don't suit the evolutionary paradigm.
I certainly am sorry if recounting the facts has "introduced doubt" into your world. It's introducing selective facts for the purpose of introducing doubt in the reader's mind that I was talking about. If evolutionists using radioactive dating to support their views don't mention problems with the methods, but when creationists use the same methods to point out inconsistencies, then the evolutionists mention the problems to explain away the inconsistencies, do you really, honestly, think that that's a fair thing to do? And do you really think it's honest to represent that as simply "recounting the facts"?
Would you prefer a wording more along the lines of, "Apparent radiocarbon ages between 30,000 and 45,000 years have been found ..."? That would be better, but still the word "apparent" is there. Do evolutionists use the word "apparent" when quoting ages that support their views? Not normally, no. What's wrong with saying "Radiocarbon ages between 30,000 and 45,000 years have been found"?
Would you prefer to turn it around this way? "Radiocarbon dating of typical materials like wood can become unreliable for radiocarbon ages of 30,000 to 45,000 years and more due to contamination during geologically recent contact with the biosphere or handling of the samples. Such ages have been found for pieces of wood found embedded in basalt and sandstone. With careful handling, the probability of this type of contamination is greatly reduced for sample materials like coal and diamonds." No, I would prefer it the way I had it, not pretending that dates that don't suit evolutionists are less reliable than dates that do.
Do you mean speculation like whether C14/C12 ratios of below one part in 1015 can be reliably measured? No, I mean speculation like how dates that don't suit the evolutionary worldview can be explained away.
They attribute the low measurements to bacterial contamination between mining and measurement. They certainly do. How did they arrive at this?

Because coal is formed over geological time scales at depths providing excellent shielding from cosmic rays, its 14C content should be insignificant in comparison to the 14C introduced by even the most careful sample preparation techniques used in 14C dating laboratories. How is it then, that material, which should show a 14C age indistinguishable from that produce by a combination of machine background and contamination during careful sample preparation, routinely produces a finite 14C age?

The only reason to question the age and try and find an explanation is because it doesn't fit their views on how old the coal is. So what does the author do? He suggests that bacteria might be responsible. How does he demonstrate that it is? Well, apart from pointing out that bacteria has been found on coal, he essentially does nothing. Does he consider that the age might be accurate and that the coal is not as old as believed? No. Does he consider that the age might be due to accelerated decay? No. Does he consider that the age might be due to a different 12C/14C ratio before the flood? No. That the coal is as old as believed is not questioned. In fact, it is obvious that the only reason for the paper at all is because the 14C date doesn't fit the belief about the age of the coal. If it fitted the belief, there would be no need to investigate alternative explanations for the apparent age.
What's missing is typical or extreme measurements on fossil carbon that has been stored in a dry nitrogen atmosphere between mining (from a deep field) and the measurement. To make the creationist case, you would need such a measurement with an apparent age less than about 80,000 years… In other words, to make the case the creationists would have to apply stricter standards than evolutionists typically use.
An excellent source — detailed, clear, relevant, well sourced, written by an expert: Baumgardner questions his "expert" status[2], as well as disputing many of his claims. Baumgardner is replying to an earlier version of Bertsche, and Bertsche does attempt to answer some of Baumgardner's responses, but on the whole I think Baumgardner's criticisms stand. In essence, we again have the situation where the method is scrutinised in excruciating detail when creationists use it, but it is apparently quite satisfactory when evolutionists use it. Bertsche appears to accept evolutionary explanations too readily. For example, he claims that "Coal is notorious for contamination", citing the paper by Lowe that I quote above, but Lowe doesn't show what Bertsche claims. That is, Lowe doesn't demonstrate that coal is frequently contaminated; rather, he admits that coal frequently has "too high" 14C levels, assumes that contamination is a factor, and suggests a possible source of such contamination.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 02:43, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
@awc - YEC views with somehow accelerated decay rates during the Flood are a problem because of the probable discontinuity at the end of the flood event. By this I mean matterial grown since the flood contains C14 which decays at a set rate. Material formed prior to the flood contains an accelerated decay and therefore test older than they are. Assuming a consistant accelerated rate you would get ages to 4000 years as real ages, a cluster of the same age for material killed by the flood, and a set of older ages from pre flood material. All coal therefore if formed in the flood would test to the same age. There should be a break in readings older than 4000 years that would allow a calculation of the decay rate change. It would be a straightforward task to create a calibration curve for the period since the flood. Hamster 03:46, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
There are a million problems with setting up a consistent Flood/radiocarbon scenario, but this isn't one of them. The reason is that radiocarbon dating doesn't detect the radioactive decay at the time the organism died, but the decay that occurred between its death and the present. Suppose at the end of the Flood, 4,500 years ago, the level of carbon-14 was zero. Then an organism that lived and died in the first decade after the flood would have essentially no C-14, and thus a nearly infinite radiocarbon age. In the first 600 years after the Flood, the C-14 levels would slowly build up to about 10% of the equilibrium level. In the 4,000 years since, that C-14 would have decayed down to, say, 5%, which would be interpreted as a radiocarbon age in the ballpark of 25,000 years. If you apply the method to something more recent, like a 500 year old tree, then the C-14 concentration when the tree first grew would be close to the present value, so the present concentration in the wood of the core would be dominated by the decay in the last 500 years, so the radiocarbon age would be the same as the calendar age. The would be other problems, but no cluster at 4,000 years. —Awc 08:34, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
Of course, one of the items investigated in the original publication on radiocarbon dating was wood from the tomb of Zoser at Sakkara, determined historically to be from 2700 BC. The creationists have a different chronology and would place that tomb around 2050 BC, or 300 years after the Flood. This would imply that the C-14 concentration rose from its very low value immediately after the Flood to nearly the present day concentration in only 300 years, rather than the 6,000+ years one would expect. This in turn implies either a very barren planet or a very high level of cosmic radiation. There is no indication of or explanation for either of these states in either the archaeological or biblical record. ... But excuse me. I am taking all of this too seriously again. —Awc 07:40, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

@Philip:

  • What is the poster child measurement, the one that most clearly makes the case for excessive C-14 levels in "ancient" carbon?
  • Under the conditions of that measurement, what level of contamination do you think can be definitively ruled out, and what is the basis for that estimate?

—Awc 08:47, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

  • How do you explain carbon samples that show much less C-14 than we are discussing here, with radiocarbon ages as old as 120,000 years?

—Awc 10:01, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

Your three questions seem to presume that creationists are claiming that the 14C measurements are accurate. They are not. Rather, they are pointing out that they give results that are not acceptable to the scientists who do consider them accurate. For example, creationists could agree that all "anomalous" dates in coal and diamonds are due to contamination. But then make the point that if the critics want to say that contamination is so hard to detect and eliminate, then there is no reason to trust any of the dates. The creationist arguments against contamination, etc. are actually arguments against contamination just in the case of the creationist claims but not in other claims. Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 13:18, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Your three questions seem to presume that creationists are claiming that the 14C measurements are accurate. Well, yes, because they are. Your proposal for this article included the statement, "Coal, considered to be hundreds of millions of years old, still retains some C14", and Batten, Wieland, and Sarfati wrote "It is an unsolved mystery to evolutionists as to why coal has 14C in it, or wood supposedly many millions of years old still has 14C present, but it makes perfect sense in a creationist worldview.". Don't get me wrong. I consider it a sign of progress that you now realize it is untenable to insist that the measurements actually indicate intrinsic C-14 in these sources. But moving on to your new position, I would first like to point out that the scientific community does not apply a different standard to fossil carbon than it applies to archeological artifacts. In both cases the position is that there is a systematic excess of C-14 on the order of 1 pmC, resulting in an uncorrrected age of about 40,000 years for very old material. For recent material (a few thousand years old), the excess radiocarbon results in an uncorrected age that is about 100 years too young. Once we've got that straight, then we can talk about the difficult problem of determining the size of systematic errors from an unknown source. --Unsigned comment by Awc (talk)
Oops, I answered the wrong question. Creationists don't claim that the dates are accurate, but don't question the measurements. You asked about the latter, and I answered the former. Sorry about that. So let me try again.
What is the poster child measurement, the one that most clearly makes the case for excessive C-14 levels in "ancient" carbon? Probably the carbon in diamonds, given their claimed age and their resistance to contamination.
Good choice. Diamonds aren't soft and porous like coal, diffusivity is very low, and as far as I know no bugs eat them.
Are you arguing that radiocarbon measurements on diamonds are positive evidence for a young Earth, or only that the evolutionists are being inconsistent?
—Awc 09:42, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Under the conditions of that measurement, what level of contamination do you think can be definitively ruled out, and what is the basis for that estimate? I'm not prepared to put a figure on it, because I don't know what the figure is, and I'm not arguing for a particular figure. Rather, I'm arguing for the logic that you can't claim contamination for the diamonds whilst claiming contamination is not a factor for secular dates.
Do you even read what I write?
the scientific community does not apply a different standard to fossil carbon than it applies to archeological artifacts. In both cases the position is that there is a systematic excess of C-14 on the order of 1 pmC, resulting in an uncorrrected age of about 40,000 years for very old material.
—Awc 07:43, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
How do you explain carbon samples that show much less C-14 than we are discussing here, with radiocarbon ages as old as 120,000 years? First, I don't recall seeing evidence that such samples exist. Samples claimed to have much less 14C usually(?) already have the "background" carbon deducted. If there are such samples, an obvious answer is that they had less to start with.
The reference is given above, along with some excerpts:
This paper doesn't care about dating, they just want to reduce the background counts in their neutrino detector, so they most definitely have not subtracted any background. —Awc 07:43, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 08:24, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Deep edit break

Are you arguing that radiocarbon measurements on diamonds are positive evidence for a young Earth, or only that the evolutionists are being inconsistent? Neither, directly. Rather, it's that there is evidence inconsistent with the mainstream view. I guess you could call that an inconsistency in that that they accept some results and reject others, though.

The mainstream view is that the measurement process introduces a signal on the order of a few tenths of one percent modern carbon. What evidence is inconsistent with this view? —Awc 20:11, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

Do you even read what I write? Yes, but I don't believe that answers the question. The "systematic excess" that you talk about is not (necessarily?) contamination. It's an "unknown" source (unknown because they're rejecting that the material is young enough to retain 14C).

I'm sorry. What question is not being answered? —Awc 20:11, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

The reference is given above, along with some excerpts: It seems that I misunderstood your question. When you asked about "radiocarbon ages as old as 120,000 years?", I took it you were talking about dates of 120,000 years derived from carbon dating, i.e. after correcting for the "systematic excess". I now understand that you are talking about raw data without that deduction, and you are therefore asking about how you get that level of 14C in a creationist model. Is that correct?

Yes. If the 1 pmC measured for some fossil carbon is due to events related to the Flood that affected cosmic ray intensities and the magnitude of the carbon reservoir, why do other samples of fossil carbon show 10,000 times less radiocarbon? —Awc 20:11, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 13:09, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

The mainstream view is that the measurement process introduces a signal on the order of a few tenths of one percent modern carbon. What evidence is inconsistent with this view? I'm not sure exactly what view that is, but the point is, this is a rationalisation for measured carbon that doesn't fit their views.
The mainstream view is that the measurement process introduces a signal on the order of a few tenths of one percent modern carbon. What evidence is inconsistent with this view? —Awc 13:20, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry. What question is not being answered? The one that you were attempting to answer with the comment that you didn't think I'd read.
I was commenting, not answering a question. —Awc 13:20, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
…why do other samples of fossil carbon show 10,000 times less radiocarbon? I guess there could be all sorts of reasons, including not being in equilibrium with the atmosphere in the first place.
Do you think that not all fossil carbon is of organic origin? Are are you just guessing without thinking? —Awc 13:20, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 12:13, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
The mainstream view is that the measurement process introduces a signal on the order of a few tenths of one percent modern carbon. What evidence is inconsistent with this view? I assume that you repeating your question verbatim, despite my answer, is to make some sort of point. "The mainstream view" refers to a particular view (i.e. mainstream scientists have lots of views about lots of things). My answer that this is a rationalisation for measured carbon that doesn't fit their views was referring to another of their views; the view that the samples are so old that they shouldn't have any 14C left. Yet, contrary to their expectations, they find some, which is then rationalised (viewed) as some sort of "signal" rather than an indication that their view on the ages might be wrong.
Do you think that not all fossil carbon is of organic origin? Are are you just guessing without thinking? No and no, and I'm not sure why you suggest that. Not all living things are in equilibrium with the atmosphere insofar as the level of 14C is concerned.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:35, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Request from Hamster for expansion

Concerning this statement in the article,

Creation geologists tend to believe that this residual carbon-14 reflects some combination of low concentration before the Flood, sequestration by burial during the Flood, and radioactive decay since the Flood. This would require that carbon-14 be exempt from the general acceleration of decay rates believed to have occurred during the Flood.

Hamster asked

perhaps Philip could expand on the underlying cause of alpha and beta decay so we can understand what God changed during the flood ? Or did he just miraculously say one decay type would go faster and why would he do that rather than just change the materials directly ? Hamster 23:34, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps critics could stop implying that if creationists can't explain every last detail then their claims can be ignored. But for what can be said at this stage, see Chapter 7 of the RATE research. Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 11:39, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

volcanic rocks older than the Earth

The article cites Sarfati, citing Plimer, thus: "Argon-Argon dating of young Hawaiian volcanic rocks gives an age that is older than the age measured and calculated for the Earth." I would be interested in learning more about this case, but neither Plimer nor Sarfati indicates the original source, or indeed any more details except that it has something to do with "adsorption of excess argon by mica minerals". I have been unable to find anything online. Can anyone point me to more information? (Under the quality standards of Wikipedia, I would simply delete the claim, but the standards normally applied on this cite are rather lower.) —Awc 15:13, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

After I noticed that Sarfati did not actually verify Plimer's statement, and that Plimer has some credibility issues, not only among creationists, I removed this statement from the article. —Awc 06:53, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Plimer is unreliable when it comes to criticising creationism (and, allegedly, in criticising global warming alarmism, although I've not looked into him on that), but he is also a qualified geologist and has worked as a geology professor as several universities, so on the particular matter in view here, he should be able to be relied on (for the facts, not the interpretation).
I've found mentions of what appears to be the same thing here and here, both citing Karpinskaya, T. B., I. A. Ostrovskiy, and L. L. Shanin, 1961. Synthetic introduction of argon into mica at high pressures and temperatures. Isv Akad Nauk S.S.S.R. Geology Series 8:87–89.
…the standards normally applied on this cite are rather lower. Not lower; fairer.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 08:44, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
Interesting references. They both mention laboratory experiments (Karpinskaya et al.) that produced material that would be dated as old as 5 billion years, and the second one mentions diamonds (not lava) with a K-Ar isochron age of 6 billion years. We can discuss the significance of these reports, but unfortunately neither of them verifies Plimer's assertion. I agree that Plimer should know what he's talking about, but he's been caught making bloopers before. —Awc 09:35, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

KBS tuff

Awc has rewritten the section about the KBS tuff to put an evolutionary spin on it. The point is in the introduction to the "Accuracy" section: "Scientists will refuse to accept a radiometric date that they consider to be wrong, and in those cases look for reasons to reject it. In effect, they will keep trying for an "acceptable" date until they find one that fits their ideas on how old their samples actually are." The case of the dating of the KBS tuff is such an example. Here we have a radiometric date that the scientists didn't like, so they did further tests, and came up with a more acceptable date. Not only that, but this second date was confirmed by other dating methods. But other scientists weren't happy, so yet more tests were done, and yet another date (small range of dates) was found.

But with the rewrite, it is now spun to sound like the scientists concerned genuinely struggled with a difficult situation but heroically persisted until they came up with the correct answer. It doesn't mention that the second date was confirmed by other tests, and gives the impression that, until the last date was accepted, there was always a question mark over the dates. It blurs the facts that there were a number of supposedly-reliable radiometric dates before one was agreed upon by consensus, and that radiometric dates were never considered by the scientists concerned to be so reliable that they could not be questioned on the basis of evolutionary dating of fossils.

Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 00:45, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

You are concerned with the "spin" of the article, which is legitimate, and we will get to that, but to begin with, I note that you don't question the veracity of any of my statements of fact, and the only fact you accuse me of leaving out or removing concerns the confirmation of the second date by other tests. I don't understand your complaint because I cover both the paleomagnetism and fission track results. Furthermore, the paleomagnetism result was never claimed to be an independent confirmation of the date — at least not by the authors of the paper. The fission track result presumably made this claim (although I haven't seen the original paper yet) and stood as a confirmation for four years until an error in the method was discovered. What facts are supposed to be missing in my version? —Awc 20:42, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
During the rewrite I changed (not entirely intentionally) the generally chronological organization to an organization based more on the various dating methods. Would a return to the chronological structure (without reducing the expanded information) be more helpful to the reader? —Awc 08:40, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
…never claimed to be an independent confirmation… Never claimed to be independent, or never claimed to be confirmation? Surely two different people (or groups) using a different method counts as independent unless you are going to suggest collusion, so I doubt you are questioning that bit. If two separate people produce the same results, neither has to say that they agree with the other for a third party to legitimately say that the second confirms the first.
You have in the article regarding the paleomagnetism dating that "the results were ambiguous". This conflicts with Lubenow, who says "In 1974, a third chronology of the area was published in Nature, based on palaeomagnetism. The conclusion of 2.7 to 3.0 million years seemed to represent a ‘bulls-eye’ for the correlation of the various dating methods." What's the basis for saying that they were ambiguous?
A chronological arrangement is better in this case.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 12:05, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
This conflicts with Lubenow, ... What's the basis for saying that they were ambiguous? I give four references for this statement in the article, and for three of those direct quotations. The "bull's eye" statement in the original paper is, "An age of 2.7 to 3.0 Myr for this group is strongly indicated." (p.347) This comes after, "The starting point for the correlation is the age of 2.61 ± 0.26 Myr obtained by Fitch and Miller ..." (p.346) In other words, if the date of Fitch and Miller is correct, then palaeomagnetism can further narrow down the date of the group of fossils including 1470. This is followed by a statement "emphasizing" that the correlation "suggested", is "tentative", but "best satisfies the present evidence". Their bottom line is, that they have been able to "demonstrate the potential of the method" and "provide a basis for extending and checking other dating methods". (emphasis mine) Lubenow, for whatever reason, is incorrectly reporting the content of the paper. It is a good thing we do not have to rely on him in this case, and I would be wary of relying on him in the future. Borrowing your words, two different people using a different method counts neither as independent nor as confirmation if the second uses the results of the first as their "starting point". —Awc 14:38, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
Here is the first cut at a chronology:
  • 1970, K-Ar, 212-230 Myr
  • 1972, Richard Leakey discovered a human skull below the KBS tuff
  • 197?, Ar-Ar, 2.6 Myr
  • 1975, K-Ar dating, 1.82 to 1.60 Myr
  • 1974, paleomagnetism, no independent date
  • 1976, fission-tracks, 2.4 Myr.
  • 1977, paleomagnetism, no independent date
  • 1979, correlation to another formation by trace elements, 1.8 Myr
  • 1980, "three separate studies", 1.82, 1.87, or 1.89 Myr
  • 1980, fission-tracks, 1.9 Myr.
  • 1980, 1981, 1985, K-Ar and Ar-Ar, 1.88 Myr
I don't know how easy it will be to string these together into a coherent narrative, but it is interesting to see that the first "young" date was published in 1975, the last "old" date was published in 1976, and there was never a time when all the evidence pointed to an "old" date, except when there was only a single (non-retracted) result. —Awc 15:02, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
I give four references for this statement in the article, and for three of those direct quotations. I'll come back to the first, but for the other three, what's to say that the others are not simply post hoc rationalisation for no-longer-acceptable dates?
I assume we will be discussing that question, but your question here was simply, "What's the basis for saying that they were ambiguous?" The answer is four peer-reviewed publications versus an essay by a professor of Bible/Apologetics with (give credit where it's due) an M.S. in anthropology. —Awc 12:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
The "bull's eye" statement in the original paper is, "An age of 2.7 to 3.0 Myr for this group is strongly indicated." (p.347) This comes after, "The starting point for the correlation is the age of 2.61 ± 0.26 Myr obtained by Fitch and Miller ..." (p.346) In other words, if the date of Fitch and Miller is correct, then palaeomagnetism can further narrow down the date of the group of fossils including 1470. How does the palaeomagnetic date rely on the Fitch and Miller date? Is not palaeomagnetic dating a dating method in its own right?
This is followed by a statement "emphasizing" that the correlation "suggested", is "tentative", but "best satisfies the present evidence". "Tentative" is not the same as "ambiguous". "Tentative" does indicate somewhat less than certain, but not enough to rule out saying that the method appeared to confirm the other date.
Brock said "tentative", Boaz said "little utility", Pitman said "ambiguous". I'm fine with tweaking the language. —Awc 12:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Lubenow, for whatever reason, is incorrectly reporting the content of the paper. He reported it as saying that it came up with a date of 2.7 to 3.0 million years. You've also quoted exactly those figures. So what's incorrect?
He also said the palaeomagnetic date was arrived at by a "different" method from the K-Ar date, even though one depends on the other. If you want, you can call this unclear rather than wrong, but that is no reason to prevent us from being more clear. —Awc 12:07, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
The closing part of your comment, plus your following comment, are both dependent on the claimed "ambiguity" of the palaeomagnetic results, so I won't respond further to them at present.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 12:59, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Is not palaeomagnetic dating a dating method in its own right? no Hamster 05:00, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Please elaborate. Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 10:32, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
since the magnetic pole is know to move the direction indicated by the particles in mud or rock will provide a history of that movement. The pattern of movement is considered unique for short periods but over longer times may be very similar. Other factors come into play which reset the magnetic direction shown. If an approximate age is known the magnetic properties can be used to get a more precise match. see HERE It is not like tree tings where you chop one down and count. Sea floor spreading MAY be one location where a more direct dating could be obtained where the rock is essentially undisturbed.Hamster 15:49, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I had suspected something like that when I read up on it, but had forgotten that when I asked the question. You've confirmed what I suspected.
However, I still don't understand it sufficiently. What I gather is that a particular palaeomagnetic pattern might repeat at, say, 1 million years or five million years or 10 million years. So the dating would come in as one of those three, but would not fit 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, or 9 million years. Is that correct, in principle? If so, is it easy to say roughly what that interval is, or does it vary too much to put a rough figure on it?
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 11:41, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
My picture of the method (possibly wrong and certainly over-simplified) is that I have a formation where I can assign absolute dates to the bottom (t_bot) and to the top (t_top) by some method, but inbetween I have nothing but a palaeomagnetic reversal. All I know initially is that whatever I find in the formation was buried between t_bot and t_top. From observations elsewhere in the world, I can determine that between t_bot and t_top there was one and only one palaeomagnetic reversal, and that was at some time t_rev. When I apply that knowledge to the formation I am studying, I still don't have absolute dates for everything, but at least I can now divide my finds into two groups, those that were buried between t_bot and t_rev, and those that were buried between t_rev and t_top. —Awc 12:24, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
@awc, thats a simple example but correct. If you had many layers deposited over a very long time period you may be able to refine a radiometric date by comparing the magnetic pattern with another rock of known date. Obviously a reversal is easier to spot than a direction change. Hamster 15:11, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
At least it's what Brock and Isaac did. Leakey's estimate of 2.9 Myr was based on layers above and below dated at 2.6 Myr and 3.2 Myr. Brock and Isaac took the same 2.6 Myr date for the layer above, so it is clear their numbers will have to be close even before they do any analysis. The oldest hominid finds, including 1470, were found near two short periods of reversed palaeomagnetism. (See the middle of the first column on p. 347 of their paper.) There were two such periods of reversal prior to 2.6 Myr, namely between about 2.7 and 3.0 Myr (middle of the first column p. 346). Basically, given the dates of 2.6—3.2 Myr for the layers above and below, they used the palaeomagnetism data to narrow the range down to 2.7—3.0 Myr. —Awc 16:20, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
… I still don't have absolute dates for everything… But the dates that you have are absolute dates.
Neither of you appear to have disagreed with my description, so I'll assume that it is correct. So for the sake of illustration, let's say that there were magnetic reversals at 1 mya, 2.7 mya, 3 mya, and 10 mya. If the potassium-argon date had said 6 mya, then the palaeomagnetic dating would have contradicted it. But because the palaeomagnetic dating gave a couple of dates that agreed, then it can be said to have confirmed the potassium-argon dating. I understand that the method is therefore not completely independent, but neither is it all that dependent. To put it another way, if the potassium-argon date was 500,000 years older, the palaeomagnetic date would not also be 500,000 years older. They do not change in sync. In that sense one is not dependent on the other.
He also said the palaeomagnetic date was arrived at by a "different" method from the K-Ar date, even though one depends on the other. If you want, you can call this unclear rather than wrong… Well, palaeomagnetic dating is a different method, so it's definitely not "wrong". Rather, it is right! Yes, there may be some dependence, but not enough to prevent it being said that it confirmed the date. So your claim that Lubenow … is incorrectly reporting the content of the paper is false. He correctly reported it. Palaeomagnetic dating confirmed the potassium-argon date, until the scientists concerned decided that their vaunted "absolute" radiometric dating methods could be discarded if they didn't fit with their evolutionary ideas.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:51, 11 July 2012 (UTC)
magnetism and radiometric dating have nothing whatever to do with each other. They are totally independant.
radiometric dates are not casually discarded. Any scientist rejecting a properly collected, prepared and processed sample needs to explain why its wrong.
once a date range is determined by perhaps radiometric dating it provides a starting point to compare the magnetic properties of the rock. The magnetic properties may not match, in which case an explanation needs to be found ( and theres a bunch of stuff that impacts radiometric dating or paleomagnetic dating) If the magnetic properties match then it supports the date. Patterns of reversals may be extremely similar at different points in time, so they may be a close match at several age ranges.
I have not read the actual paper so I am just stating how methods are applied in general.
a radiometric date supported by paleomagnetism MAY be wrong and all dates are subject to re-examination. If multiple decay methods give similar dates it is more likely to be correct since each method has different issues which lead to improper results.
Hamster 16:45, 11 July 2012 (UTC)
All of the above-cited articles spoke of the great difficulty in getting rock or crystal samples that were not altered, weathered, or derived from older rock. enough said Hamster 17:08, 11 July 2012 (UTC)
magnetism and radiometric dating have nothing whatever to do with each other. They are totally independant. So you're disagreeing with Awc saying that two different people using a different method counts neither as independent nor as confirmation if the second uses the results of the first as their "starting point". Or perhaps you are referring to me seeming to lump palaeomagnetic dating in with radiometric dating. I stand corrected on that.
radiometric dates are not casually discarded. Any scientist rejecting a properly collected, prepared and processed sample needs to explain why its wrong. Of course. But he has a ready supply of reasons, such as citing a great difficulty in getting rock or crystal samples that were not altered, weathered, or derived from older rock. Or that it didn't fit with other evidence. That, however, does not refute my point that their vaunted "absolute" radiometric and other dating methods can be discarded if they don't fit with their evolutionary ideas. They just have to find some justification for it, but that's usually not hard to do.
Nothing in the rest of your explanation of how it works refutes anything I said. In fact, your comment that If the magnetic properties match then it supports the date. supports what I said, that Lubenow was accurate, contrary to Awc's claim.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 11:52, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
No. absolutely not. I would support fully AWCs comments and add that Lubenow has deliberately misrepresented the study he is commenting on because he shows a complete and unsubstantiated bias against science and scientists.
I believe I said that dates are not discarded without a thorough examination of the process, and that explanations might support such doubt. The people who wrote the stuff said there were problems in getting good samples from a tuff. They are quite correct in that. One of the studies mentioned came up with two dates for two discrete sections of the tuff. It simply highlights the need for extreme care in collecting and handling samples.
I am not lumping anything together. What part of magnetism and radiometric dating have nothing whatever to do with each other. They are totally independant. dont you understand ? magnetism does not depend on nuclear dacay processes nor does radiometric dating rely on magnetic materials trapped in clay. That does not mean that you cant use one to provide a reference point for the other. Its much the same as carbon dating a small piece of a tree ring to get a starting date for dendochronology.
Hamster 19:37, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
I didn't think for one moment that you intended to support me over Awc—I'm not that gullible. However, my point was that your comments did support my argument over his.
  • Awc: "two different people using a different method counts neither as independent nor as confirmation if the second uses the results of the first as their "starting point"."
  • Me: "I understand that the method is therefore not completely independent, but neither is it all that dependent."
  • You: "magnetism and radiometric dating have nothing whatever to do with each other. They are totally independant."
What you said (as opposed to the side that you'd prefer to support) was more in line with my comment than Awc's.
you missed the point. a magnetic date derived by checking using a starting date from radiometric dating may confirm the radiometric date and may be wrong. AWC is correct in what he said. Hamster 03:26, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Lubenow has deliberately misrepresented the study he is commenting on because he shows a complete and unsubstantiated bias against science and scientists. Given that you (a) attribute motives ("deliberately") without showing any evidence of such, and (b) make wild claims ("a complete and unsubstantiated bias against science and scientist"—he works with scientists) without providing any evidence of such, I'll take that comment as your bias talking, not your objectivity. So far in this discussion nobody has pointed out any fault of Lubenow's—merely accused him of being wrong. Awc did attempt to show error, but I pointed out that it was not actual error.
he published his rant in Creation, NOT a peer reviewed science journal. GHe uses language in his headings for the document that shows his bias of science as crap. He is obviously beating his own drum of "evolution is a lie" rather than fairly critisizing the science. Hamster 03:26, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
I believe I said that dates are not discarded without a thorough examination of the process, and that explanations might support such doubt. I have no problem with that. The problem I have is when they fail to thoroughly examine the process when they are happy with the dates, and tout such dates as hard evidence. That's the point: if the dates are acceptable, they are quoted as proof. If they are not, there are always ways of finding fault with them. That doesn't mean finding "faults" that don't exist, but finding faults that do exist in all such dates.
I fail to see what point you are trying to make.
Thats how science is done. This is what I observed, hres a hypothesis, the hypothesis appears to be supported by x,y and z. Oops, heres something you didnt know originally so you are wrong. OK, we agree, the date must be revised. Hamster 03:26, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
I could use some elaboration, too, particularly the part about faults ... do exist in all such dates. In the KBS case, are you suggesting that the current date of 1.8 Myr is not any better founded than the previous date of 2.6 Myr? That, if the consensus on human evolution changed so that a date of 2.6 Myr would be more comfortable, that reasons could be found to discard 1.8 Myr and go back to 2.6 Myr? Why did the scientific community settle on that date, rather than simply concluding that the formation is undatable? Would you apply that prinicple generally to radiometric dating? Do you think, by making additional analyses, that the date of the K-T boundary, for example, could be revised from 65.5 ± 0.3 Myr to 55.5 ± 0.3 Myr, if that were the date arbitrarily desired? —Awc 12:50, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
I am not lumping anything together. I didn't say you were. I said that I did. Perhaps if you tried a bit more to be objective instead of just taking sides (anything I say must be wrong), you would have realised that. The same goes for the rest of your post which essentially agrees with what I had already said, but you are writing as though it doesn't agree with me
No Philip I dont agree with you and I have said why. You just are not grasping it. Hamster 03:26, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 00:41, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
you missed the point. a magnetic date derived by checking using a starting date from radiometric dating may confirm the radiometric date and may be wrong. AWC is correct in what he said. That's a contradiction (to confirm something means to establish the correctness of it), but what I guess you mean is that a magnetic date may agree with the radiometric date yet be wrong. So what's the point of the palaeomagnetic dating if agreement doesn't mean confirmation?
he published his rant in Creation, NOT a peer reviewed science journal. GHe uses language in his headings for the document that shows his bias of science as [rubbish]. He is obviously beating his own drum of "evolution is a lie" rather than fairly critisizing the science. That is itself merely a substance-free rant that shows, as I said before, that you are taking sides rather than being objective. You don't need to publish in a peer-review journal to make a fair assessment of something, you've not shown that his criticism is unfair, you've not shown that he refers to evolution as a "lie", and you've not shown that he is biased against science, especially given that I provided evidence that he wasn't.
Thats how science is done. This is what I observed, hres a hypothesis, the hypothesis appears to be supported by x,y and z. Oops, heres something you didnt know originally so you are wrong. OK, we agree, the date must be revised. I agree that's how science is done. This is what I observe, here's a hypothesis that fits the biblical account. What's that? The Bible can't be right because the dating proves it wrong? That absolute, certain, scientific, peer-reviewed method that all true scientists accept? Except when they don't want to accept the dates.
I could use some elaboration, too, particularly the part about "faults ... do exist in all such dates". All dates are based in part on assumptions about what happened in the past, so all such dates are open to being shown to be wrong. And, of course, human error.
In the KBS case, are you suggesting that the current date of 1.8 Myr is not any better founded than the previous date of 2.6 Myr? Essentially, yes.
That, if the consensus on human evolution changed so that a date of 2.6 Myr would be more comfortable, that reasons could be found to discard 1.8 Myr and go back to 2.6 Myr? Without a doubt. Although a date younger than the oldest human doesn't have the same imperative to be changes, so they might not bother.
Why did the scientific community settle on that date, rather than simply concluding that the formation is undatable? How could they argue that it's undatable once they'd already come up with a date, especially a confirmed one?
Do you think, by making additional analyses, that the date of the K-T boundary, for example, could be revised from 65.5 ± 0.3 Myr to 55.5 ± 0.3 Myr, if that were the date arbitrarily desired? I don't see why not.
No Philip I dont agree with you and I have said why. You just are not grasping it. I know you don't, but your comments did.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 08:12, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't see why not. Thank you for clarifying that you not only believe that many dates would be modified if they were examined more closely, but that the results of any exercise in dating is essentially arbitrary. Although this may well be another case where you "take a position on what a subset of evidence implies without examining that evidence" (User:Awc), permit me to ask why you hold such a position.
First please clarify what sorts of limits you see on the possibility to reinterpret radiometric dating. After all, even the RATE team, the cream of the creation scientist crop, calls the evidence that hundreds of millions of years worth of radioactive decay has occurred in some rocks "compelling". Is your personal position that even a reinterpretation by a factor of a million is possible, allowing pre-Cambrian rocks to be reinterpreted as Flood formations without a change in decay rates? Or are you thinking more a factor of 2 or less, as in the two main dates proposed for the KBS tuff?
Second, I must say I am surprised you didn't flinch when I proposed not only an adjustment of the K-T boundary by 10 millions years, but a new date that maintains the 0.3 Myr error bars. Given that the rocks of the K-T boundary have been measured hundreds of times by several methods and several laboratories over several decades, do you think that a re-examination could result in different isotope ratios coming out in a consistent way but with different values than before, or can we treat the isotope ratios as objective observations? If we can, where do you see such flexibility in the possibility to reinterpret this date.
—Awc 10:52, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
How could they argue that it's undatable once they'd already come up with a date, especially a confirmed one? this statement alone shows that you dont understand the proctise of science or what "supported" means in scientific terms.
- so one more time. A rediometric date depends on sample collection and processing to give a date. Using different decay chains may confirm a date is consistant. If the method used is correct then that date may have no challangers. When other evidence is presented that makes that date questionable then scientists will do more research to find which thing needs to change. In the case of a hominid fossil there are two main points 1. are hominids older than currently thought or 2. is the radiometric date in error.
in the case being discussed , a volcanic tuff, all the researchers stated problems in samples for dating. But they did the best they could and reconsidered as new evidence was presented.
there ARE no absolutes in science, at best you get well understood behaviors within specific conditions. Hamster 14:56, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
ok, Phil, lets look at Lubenows opinion piece published in a non-science paper where no-one in the field will see it.
A popular myth is that radioactive dating methods confirm the geologic time-scale and the concept of human evolution. unsubstantiated opinion which is NOT the consensus of scientists.
Based on their alleged evolution, no further comment required
The alleged compatibility of the different methods .. also no comment needed
.. claimed to distinguish two tuff units. since the people involved published properly and had dates for two sections one wonders at the loaded language here. Is he saying , as it appears , that they deliberately lied ?
Radioactive dating myth section heading, presented as statement of fact, unsubstantiated
even if radiometric dating were valid in concept (which it is not) really, wheres his evidence it is not , this IS a scientific rebuttal isnt it ?
In the dating game, evolution always wins. opinion, again no facts presented.
Hamster 18:56, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Lubenow wrote,
There was internal consistency within the studies, and high conformity by five different dating techniques. The main thing the dates did not conform to was the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans.
The "five different dating techniques" he refers to must be those in this litany:
  • The pigs won over the elephants.
  • The pigs won over potassium-argon dating.
  • The pigs won over argon40/argon39 dating.
  • The pigs won over fission-track dating.
  • They won over palaeomagnetism.
There are some stretches here. Argon40/argon39 dating is not a "different" method from potassium-argon dating, but only a more precise way to measure the amount of argon40 needed to calculate the age from the decay of potassium40. The published "palaeomagnetic" date was based not on the "different" method of magnetic measurements, but on a combination of magnetic and radiometric methods. It is a stretch to say that dates derived from evolutionary relationships in pig and elephant fossils did not "conform to the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans". I don't want to waste any time arguing with Philip whether these stretches may be error but "not actual error". What I can't see as being other than deceitful (although perhaps craftily phrased) is the claim that the dates derived from the studies of pig and elephant fossils and from palaeomagnetism were ever overturned. They "confirmed" the older date in the sense that they were compatible with it, but they were also compatible with the younger date from the beginning. —Awc 20:52, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
as soon as I started reading the article I dismissed it as having any meaningful scientific arguement. I find very little to quibble about in anything you have said, and the few things I do question is most likely my error ;) Hamster 00:15, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
First please clarify what sorts of limits you see on the possibility to reinterpret radiometric dating. Essentially none.
After all, even the RATE team, the cream of the creation scientist crop, calls the evidence that hundreds of millions of years worth of radioactive decay has occurred in some rocks "compelling". Yes, hundreds of millions of years worth of radioactive decay, not hundreds of millions of years of time.
Is your personal position that even a reinterpretation by a factor of a million is possible… As I've said very recently on another page, I don't believe that its appropriate to put a factor on it, as that implies that the methods just need an adjustment factor.
If we can, where do you see such flexibility in the possibility to reinterpret this date. The measurements of isotopes is not the issue. The issue is the assumptions that are used to convert values into dates, as explained in this article under "Prerequisites".
We seem to be talking past each other again. What I wanted to know was "what sorts of limits you see on the possibility to reinterpret the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred in a sample". You seem to be answering the question in terms of the ages that might be implied by that amount of decay. Since I find your answer either confusing or confused, I think I will wait to hear the answer to this question before proceeding. —Awc 12:01, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
A rediometric date depends on sample collection and processing to give a date. And assumptions. You forgot to mention the assumptions.
If the method used is correct then that date may have no challangers. The method involves assumptions which can always be challenged.
When other evidence is presented that makes that date questionable then scientists will do more research to find which thing needs to change. Yes. So? That's one of my points: when they want to discard a date, they'll find a reason to discount it. But how does this refute my claim that you're trying to refute?
In the case of a hominid fossil there are two main points 1. are hominids older than currently thought or 2. is the radiometric date in error. But if the date agrees with their views, why question it? So it's (only) questioned when it doesn't agree with their views. But when creationists question it because it doesn't agree with their views, the creationists are told that the dates are beyond question. (Well, perhaps not in those words, but they are told that the dates refute the creationist views, which amount to the same things, and any attempt to show that the dates are questionable, such as in this article, are hotly disputed by the anti-creationists, as Awc and you are doing here.)
…all the researchers stated problems in samples for dating. But they did the best they could and reconsidered as new evidence was presented. The "new evidence" was that the previously-confirmed dates didn't fit their theories, so they found reasons to discard the dates so that they could stick to their theories.
there ARE no absolutes in science… Except evolution, of course. That's beyond question, as it's synonymous with science itself.
ok, Phil, lets look at Lubenows opinion piece published in a non-science paper where no-one in the field will see it. So you start by attacking the source rather than the argument.
unsubstantiated opinion which is NOT the consensus of scientists. Oooh! So the "consensus" is what counts, is it? As for it being "unsubstantiated opinion", are you disagreeing that "radioactive dating methods confirm the geologic time-scale and the concept of human evolution"? Are you saying that it doesn't confirm them?
no further comment required In other words, you're not disputing this phrase (why you even mention it is unclear).
also no comment needed So much for taking Lubenow apart: you're not saying anything!
since the people involved published properly and had dates for two sections one wonders at the loaded language here. Is he saying , as it appears , that they deliberately lied ? It doesn't appear that way to me, but perhaps that's because I don't assume that creationists are always being unreasonable, like you presumably do. Rather, it appears to me that he's saying that they made a claim that he thinks they could have been mistaken about.
section heading, presented as statement of fact, unsubstantiated Wrong: substantiated by the paragraphs following the heading.
really, wheres his evidence it is not , this IS a scientific rebuttal isnt it ? Define "scientific". It's "scientific" in the sense that it addresses the science. It's not "scientific" in that it's an article in a layman's magazine.
opinion, again no facts presented. Apart from all the facts in the article, you mean?
Argon40/argon39 dating is not a "different" method from potassium-argon dating… Quibbling. Wikipedia describes it as "a radiometric dating method invented to supersede potassium-argon (K/Ar) dating" and says that "The older method required two samples for dating while the newer method requires only one.".[3] It treats them as distinct methods. About.com says that "The Ar-Ar method is considered superior, but some of its problems are avoided in the older K-Ar method.",[4] also treating them as distinct methods. They may not be completely different, but they are not the same either.
The published "palaeomagnetic" date was based not on the "different" method of magnetic measurements, but on a combination of magnetic and radiometric methods. We've discussed this already, and palaeomagnetic dating is a distinct method.
I don't really care what you call it. The important question is whether there is the possibility of "common mode failure", and there is. A single problem, like contamination by older material, can cause the K-Ar dating and the Ar-Ar dating and the paleomagnetic/radiometric dating to fail. Lubenow doesn't make this clear. —Awc 12:13, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
It is a stretch to say that dates derived from evolutionary relationships in pig and elephant fossils did not "conform to the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans". He didn't say that. He said that the dates of the tuff didn't conform to the evolutionary concepts.
Yeeees. The dates ... of the tuff ... derived from evolutionary relationships in pig and elephant fossils. —Awc 12:13, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
What I can't see as being other than deceitful (although perhaps craftily phrased) is the claim that the dates derived from the studies of pig and elephant fossils and from palaeomagnetism were ever overturned. They "confirmed" the older date in the sense that they were compatible with it, but they were also compatible with the younger date from the beginning. How so? This could be so if their error bars were large enough, but that wasn't the case.
I'm afraid it was. —Awc 12:13, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
as soon as I started reading the article I dismissed it as having any meaningful scientific arguement. Of course. It was written by a creationist.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 07:48, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
We seem to be talking past each other again. What I wanted to know was "what sorts of limits you see on the possibility to reinterpret the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred in a sample". You seem to be answering the question in terms of the ages that might be implied by that amount of decay. I don't know what a realistic figure would be. I was thinking of saying that the maximum amount of decay would be if all the carbon in the sample was 14C to begin with, but that's unrealistic. How much 14C is a reasonable percentage of C as a starting figure is something that I couldn't comment on. As for the minimum amount of decay, that obviously depends on the age of the sample. The minimum would be essentially zero if the sample was very young. I don't get the point of the question, but I've tried answering it anyway.
Another fly-by. We are talking about radioactive decay in rocks here, not 14C. —Awc 20:37, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't really care what you call it. The important question is whether there is the possibility of "common mode failure", and there is. A single problem, like contamination by older material, can cause the K-Ar dating and the Ar-Ar dating and the paleomagnetic/radiometric dating to fail. Lubenow doesn't make this clear. Goodness! Creationists criticise evolutionists for not making clear all the factors that can affect a radiometric date, making them both unreliable and subjective, even when they apparently agree with each other, but when a creationist (Lubenow) points out some of the problems, you criticise him for not pointing out a factor that can make the dates unreliable in a systematic way! Try picking on the evolutionists instead, will you?!
I'm not criticizing him because he leaves things out. I'm criticizing him because what he puts in is misleading. —Awc 20:37, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Yeeees. The dates ... of the tuff ... derived from evolutionary relationships in pig and elephant fossils. No. The dates of the tuff derived from radiometric calculations didn't conform to the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans.
I quote: "... five different dating techniques [including "elephants"]. The main thing the dates [including "elephants"] did not conform to was the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans." —Awc 20:37, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm afraid it was. Pardon? The original palaeomagnetic date was 2.7 to 3 million years. That means that the margin for error meant that it had a range with 2.7 million years at the lower end and 3 million years at the higher end. But the dates that became accepted later were 1.82, 1.87, or 1.89 million years. That is well outside that earlier range, and quite inconsistent with it.
"Error bars" do not capture the full nature of the uncertainty in this case. If the radiometric dating had been correct, then the paleomagnetic data would have narrowed down the possibilities to the range given, but a different starting point would have led to a different but also narrow range. The paleomagnetic data did not point to some value plus/minus an error but rather to a series of ranges. —Awc 20:37, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 13:30, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Another fly-by. We are talking about radioactive decay in rocks here, not 14C. Sorry, you're right (that the question wasn't about 14C). So back to your question:
Given that the rocks of the K-T boundary have been measured hundreds of times by several methods and several laboratories over several decades, do you think that a re-examination could result in different isotope ratios coming out in a consistent way but with different values than before, or can we treat the isotope ratios as objective observations? If we can, where do you see such flexibility in the possibility to reinterpret this date.
No, I'm not convinced that we could treat the data as objective. Given the apparent willingness to dismiss non-conforming dates, the lack of blind testing, etc., I'm not convinced that the data is all that objective. The RATE teams' position that despite these problems the data still generally gives long ages is not inconsistent with this. In other words, although the data may cluster around the amounts claimed, I'm not convinced that the consistency you claim exists, is there. That is, a re-examination may come up with the data in the same ball park, but I wouldn't expect that data to be all that consistent.
I'm not criticizing him because he leaves things out. I believe that your comment amounts to saying that he's left something out.
I'm criticizing him because what he puts in is misleading. More misleading than the evolutionists who normally don't admit to the unreliability of their dating methods? I really don't think you've addressed my response about how Lubenow has explained more than most evolutionists do, yet it is Lubenow you criticise, not the evolutionists.
I quote: "... five different dating techniques [including "elephants"]. The main thing the dates [including "elephants"] did not conform to was the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans." Let's recap. You said that It is a stretch to say that dates derived from evolutionary relationships in pig and elephant fossils did not "conform to the concept of the evolution of pigs and humans". The quote in that referred to was "the dates", and specifically dates from "five different dating techniques". These dates included dates from elephant and pig evolution (with the pigs subsequently being redated), with the others being radiometric techniques. So no, it's not a stretch at all.
If the radiometric dating had been correct, then the paleomagnetic data would have narrowed down the possibilities to the range given, but a different starting point would have led to a different but also narrow range. The paleomagnetic data did not point to some value plus/minus an error but rather to a series of ranges. Which seems consistent with what I suggested earlier, and which nobody clearly disagreed with, because nobody directly addressed the details of my suggestion, and here is still so vague as to be meaningless. What, for example, are the different ranges? Without knowing that, we don't know what the likelihood is that a wrong date is going to nicely match the wrong range. The greater the chance of a wrong match, the more pointless is the technique in the first place. The lesser the chance of a wrong match, the more legitimate it is to say that the results can be considered confirmation. Without knowing that, this is just an all-too-convenient bit of data that can be used to confirm dates you want to, or can be ignored if you don't like the date.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 13:09, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Java man

What we have on this case all comes from a single 10 line news report. I haven't been able to find anything more. We don't even know what method was used to get the younger date, much less what has been criticized or generally accepted about either measurement. (I would worry that the first date is not reliable for all the reasons that sediments are always hard to date, but that's just my speculation.) Since this is only one of "many cases", I propose that it be removed and replaced with a better documented example. —Awc 09:47, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

I see now that I already questioned the inclusion of this item over a year ago. My comment accompanying this edit was: "Announcement was a year ago. (Should we even mention an item with such scanty details?)" Considering that there has been no discussion or new source in all that time, I will take that as tacit approval to remove the item. If someone thinks it should be reinstated, they can present their case here. —Awc 11:30, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

Continuing problems with the evolutionary spin

In a conversation above, I said that Essentially, your changes did what mainstream geologists do: find excuses for ages that don't fit their views, whilst accepting the accuracy of ages that do fit their views.. There was some discussion of that comment, but it didn't go far and in the end was essentially unanswered.

I also subsequently asked Why make changes? Why not simply revert to my version? What was wrong with that? Given that I've answered your reasons for your changes, there is no reason not to revert to my version.

Yet the article has continued to be edited in such a manner, attempting to obscure the evidence that scientists don't accept radiometric dates when it doesn't suit them and the evidence that the dates are unreliable, without adequate discussion of those edits on this talk page.

I'll take one example to illustrate my point, that of the Crinum mine samples. The argument is that radiometric dating has problems, in this case two different methods giving very different dates for what should be the same date.

A lesser issue with this is the characterisation of what creationists make of this. The article says that they "hold the divergence of these dates to demonstrate the unreliability of one or both of the methods." I don't believe that's accurate. Rather, they hold the divergence of many such dates—of which this is just one example—to demonstrate the unreliability of the dating methods.

The bigger issue is the excuse offered: "Evolutionists consider contamination to be the likely cause of the finite radiocarbon age.". This claim is unreferenced, so I can't see exactly what their argument is (beyond a little bit of further information given in the article) or the grounds for it. But the claim seems suspect. It says that contamination is considered a possibility because the roots apparently extended out the bottom of the basalt layer. So the wood was contaminated by older material?? It also says that contamination is a possibility because of who collected it. Some of the wood tested came from a drill core. There is no evidence that the miners ever directly handled the wood, and the sampling was done by a highly-qualified geologist who would be aware of such possibilities.

But the real point is that this is an example of one of the points being made in the article: evolutionists will find excuses to dismiss a date that they don't like. Without any evidence that their argument here are correct, that is what is being done: excuses (contamination in situ or in handling) are offered to dismiss a date that they don't like. But it's not portrayed as excuses.

I need to mention one other issue, but first here's a recap of discussions above.

  • Awc said that palaeomagnetism doesn't supply an "independent" date.
  • I asked: "How does the palaeomagnetic date rely on the Fitch and Miller date? Is not palaeomagnetic dating a dating method in its own right?"
  • Hamster: "If an approximate age is known the magnetic properties can be used to get a more precise match."
  • Me: "What I gather is that a particular palaeomagnetic pattern might repeat at, say, 1 million years or five million years or 10 million years. So the dating would come in as one of those three, but would not fit 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, or 9 million years. Is that correct, in principle?"
  • There followed a couple of responses by Awc and one by Hamster which didn't actually answer that question of mine.
  • Me: "Neither of you appear to have disagreed with my description, so I'll assume that it is correct."
  • Hamster: "magnetism and radiometric dating have nothing whatever to do with each other. They are totally independant."
  • Me: "So you're disagreeing with Awc...?"
  • Hamster: "No. absolutely not. I would support fully AWCs comments..."
  • Me (in which I provided a recap as shown here):
I didn't think for one moment that you intended to support me over Awc—I'm not that gullible. However, my point was that your comments did support my argument over his.
  • Awc: "two different people using a different method counts neither as independent nor as confirmation if the second uses the results of the first as their "starting point"."
  • Me: "I understand that the method is therefore not completely independent, but neither is it all that dependent."
  • You: "magnetism and radiometric dating have nothing whatever to do with each other. They are totally independant."
What you said (as opposed to the side that you'd prefer to support) was more in line with my comment than Awc's.
  • Hamster: "you missed the point. a magnetic date derived by checking using a starting date from radiometric dating may confirm the radiometric date and may be wrong."
  • Me: "That's a contradiction (to confirm something means to establish the correctness of it), but what I guess you mean is that a magnetic date may agree with the radiometric date yet be wrong. So what's the point of the palaeomagnetic dating if agreement doesn't mean confirmation?"

Despite all that failure to show lack of confirmation, the claim is still being made in the article that the palaeomagnetic dates did not confirm the other dates because they were based on them! Talk about making excuses!

I'm therefore reverting much of the recent change. Because of the number of changes, my reversion may be more of a sledgehammer approach, and in so doing I may have overlooked some specific valid change. But apart from grammar, etc. I think they should be discussed here before further changes are made.

Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 03:54, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

As one editor to another, I think your sledgehammer approach is unfair. After the questions you mentioned (Essentially, your changes ... and Why make changes? ...), there were 8 pages of discussion. Now you suddenly conclude that the questions are answered but not "essentially", and there has been discussion of the edits but it has not been "adequate", and revert 2 months of incremental edits. After that length of time, the status quo was the version of 3 August, not that of 4 June. That certainly doesn't protect the current version from criticism and changes, but cooperative editing dictates that changes you know will be controversial should be made in digestible chunks, allowing time for discussion before making more.
Of the massive reversions, you only deign to justify two explicitly, the Crinum mine C-14 measurements and the palaeomagnetic measurements of the KBS tuff. In the latter case, you make over 2 pages of reversions because "the claim is still being made in the article that the palaeomagnetic dates did not confirm the other dates", specifically you prefer
These results essentially confirmed the previous result, with the 1974 date being 2.7 to 3 million years.
over
The researchers started from the assumption that the older radiometric date was correct and found that the magnetic properties of the sediments were consistent with this assumption, so that they "tentatively" confirmed the date.
The adjective "tentative" comes from the original publication. "essentially" is your own synthesis. This is entirely inadequate to justify such massive reversions.
What about the piece of wood from the Crinum coal mine? Your reversions reduced the length of that section from 200 words to 40, so obviously you are not just changing the way the information is "portrayed", but are eliminating information in a massive way. Again, a cooperative editing style means taking the time to decide, at least roughly, what needs to be changed and where a compromise might be acceptable. If you don't want to make the effort at this time to find a mutually acceptable formulation, then it is legitimate to mention the parts you feel uncomfortable with on this talk page. You have done that, and I will reply shortly. Unfortunately I first had to spend some time explaining why I am reverting your reversion.
—Awc 14:21, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
As with all sites with the MediaWiki software, ASK says, "If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then do not submit it here." Sterileevolutionist story telling! 10:34, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
I can deal with my writing being edited. Where I get edgy is when it is simply thrown out. —Awc 10:50, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
After the questions you mentioned (Essentially, your changes ... and Why make changes? ...), there were 8 pages of discussion. The problem is that the eight pages didn't answer the questions.
Now you suddenly conclude that the questions are answered but not "essentially",… Which meant that in a realistic way they were not answered. If, for the sake of argument, I ask why you did something and you respond with "I don't know", is it fair to say that you haven't answered the question? You haven't ignored it. You'e given an "answer" of sorts. But it's not really an answer, as I still don't know why you did it. I'm not saying that our discussion amounted to that sort of question and that sort of answer, but I am saying that what's happened has been similar insofar as the question have not really been answered. That's why I say "essentially", and why I reject your summary of my comments as "you suddenly conclude that the questions are answered…". They were not answered in any meaningful sense.
…there has been discussion of the edits but it has not been "adequate", and revert 2 months of incremental edits. When I try discussing the edits but don't get adequate answers, I think it's fair enough that I revert.
…cooperative editing dictates that changes you know will be controversial should be made in digestible chunks, allowing time for discussion before making more. It also involves not making further changes when the ones you've already made have been questioned. You made eight changes (i.e. there are eight edits in the history) after my last edit of 4th June before, on 23rd June, I questioned the way the edits were going, including asking why the changes were necessary. That question was not answered, yet you continued to make another 13 changes after that. Co-operative editing means not barging ahead with your changes when they've been questioned and you've not justified your approach. However, I will concede that you probably didn't understand my concerns, so I will restate them near the end of this post.
Of the massive reversions, you only deign to justify two explicitly… Yes, two examples of the sorts of changes that I'd been questioning.
The adjective "tentative" comes from the original publication. "essentially" is your own synthesis. This is entirely inadequate to justify such massive reversions. Perhaps, if that was the basis for the reversion. It wasn't. The basis for the reversion was the lack of requested explanation of why the palaeomagnetic dates are to be ignored. That the confirmation was not definite doesn't mean that there was no confirmation at all.
What about the piece of wood from the Crinum coal mine? Your reversions reduced the length of that section from 200 words to 40, so obviously you are not just changing the way the information is "portrayed", but are eliminating information in a massive way. But is it relevant information? I'll get back to that below.
Again, a cooperative editing style means taking the time to decide, at least roughly, what needs to be changed and where a compromise might be acceptable. But you have not done that.
As I said above, perhaps you've not understood my concerns—pPerhaps I haven't adequately explained my concerns. So here's another attempt, using two different analogies.
Suppose you have plans to add a rumpus room onto your house. A friend offers to look at your plans to see if he can see any room for improvements. But he doesn't just consider the position of light switches in relation to doors, the height of windows, etc. He adds a sloping floor, a big screen, theatre-style seating for 20 people, and make it three times the size you planned. He hasn't improved your plans, he's changed them into something entirely different.
Second analogy. Suppose we had an article on police corruption, and provided some examples of police corruption. But someone who didn't think that the police had been corrupt added new "facts" and argument to the examples, so that the examples are no longer of police corruption, but case studies into false claims of police corruption. They might even go as far as changing the article title from "police corruption" to "false allegations".
Being a convinced evolutionist, these are the sorts of things that you have done here. The article provided some examples of evolutionists being willing to discard dates that they don't agree with, and of dates being anomalous. You "add some facts" to "provide more details" about each one, but in a way that changes the whole thrust of those parts of the article being about the problems with dates and the willingness of evolutionists to discard them into how they are not really problems at all and how evolutionists only discard them when they have to and for very good reasons. That is, you've "improved" those parts of the article by changing them into something entirely different. That is what I was questioning, what didn't get answered, but what you went ahead and continued doing anyway, adding material that was not relevant to the point of them being there.
Now of course, returning to the police corruption analogy, if the examples offered really were ones of false accusations then it's only fair that they be dropped (as opposed to retained, inconsistent with their reason for being there in the first place). The same applies (in theory) to the examples in this article. But that should be done by discussing whether the examples are fair examples on this talk page, not by the (intended or otherwise) stealth approach of "improving" the examples out of recognition. That discussion has not happened (which is not to claim that there's been no discussion about the particular cases).
I won't immediately revert back. I'll wait a day or two at least to see if there is a good reason offered why I shouldn't, as long as no more changes of that nature are made to the article in the meantime.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:12, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
I didn't choose the examples presented here, you did. Once they were on the table, I looked into them and found that there were a number of relevant facts that had not been presented. You haven't challenged any of the facts I added. You only object that they put the story in a different light. That just goes to show that those facts are indeed relevant. If you would now like to drop these examples, that is fine with me. —Awc 20:50, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

I was more referring to Philip. He seems to have problems with people changing certain articles. Sterileevolutionist story telling! 02:07, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Yes, the shoe fits better on that foot. There are a lot of good reasons for edits — inaccurate or unsubstantiated assertion of facts, misrepresentation of the creationist or the evolutionist position, irrelevance to either of the positions. I didn't mean to remove or distort the creationist view of these incidents, and if I did I would fix it myself if I could. What I will not accept, however, backed up by the ground rules as set out by the site owner, is removal of documented facts or the evolutionist interpretation of those facts just because they might make creationism look bad. —Awc 11:00, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
you continued to make another 13 changes after that We don't need to go into a blow-by-blow description of those edits, but I'd like to point out that many of them cannot be characterized as barging ahead with your changes when they've been questioned and you've not justified your approach by any stretch of imagination. For example, from the edit comments,
  • Accuracy: Moved Hamster's request to the talk page.
  • Radiocarbon dating: consistent notation, plus minor copyedits
  • Accuracy: sp
  • Carbon-14 in deeply buried carbon: Removed two phrases that I had only included because I thought creationists would want them, but that Philip objected to
  • Carbon-14 in deeply buried carbon: fixed ref
  • Carbon-14 in deeply buried carbon: Trying to (partially) accommodate Philip.
  • Accuracy: added separate section heading === Revision of dates over time === for what has become a long intro
The basis for the reversion was the lack of requested explanation of why the palaeomagnetic dates are to be ignored. That the confirmation was not definite doesn't mean that there was no confirmation at all. Who is ignoring the palaeomagnetic dates? My version says, "The researchers ... "tentatively" confirmed the date." That's not much different from your version, "paleomagnetism ... essentially confirmed the previous result". If you ignore the slight difference between "tentatively" and "essentially", which you specifically said was not the basis for the reversion, then they both say "confirmed". Where do you find a statement that "there was no confirmation at all"? (If you only give two examples as to why you make a huge reversion, I would expect you to give examples that hold up a little better than this.) —Awc 11:24, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
I looked into them and found that there were a number of relevant facts that had not been presented. Assuming that's true (it's the "relevant" bit that I would question), my point is that, by adding those details, you were changing the nature of the examples out of recognition.
You haven't challenged any of the facts I added. I have.
You only object that they put the story in a different light. My objection is that they put the story in a different light which means that they are out of place where they are, yet you keep them where they are as though still serving the original purpose.
That just goes to show that those facts are indeed relevant. On the contrary, in these cases it does not show that at all. Creationists make the following three charges (among others):
  1. Dates are not reliable for various reasons, including being based on a worldview.
  2. Evolutionists actually know this, as shown by them finding reasons to reject dates they don't like.
  3. Using the evolutionist worldview, many dates are clearly wrong or anomalous.
So I showed some examples of each of these. You try and dispute No. 3 by invoking No. 2!
And you try and dispute No. 2 by providing so much explanation that you can't see the wood for the trees, but despite that, the wood is still there—No. 2 is still being done.
Philip … seems to have problems with people changing certain articles. False, and simply your jaundiced way of seeing things. The problem I have is not which articles they are, but the nature of the changes.
What I will not accept, however, backed up by the ground rules as set out by the site owner, is removal of documented facts or the evolutionist interpretation of those facts just because they might make creationism look bad. Nothing wrong with that if they are simply making creationism look bad when it's not.
…I'd like to point out that many of them cannot be characterized as barging ahead… No, they can't all, which is, in effect, why I said that I was using a sledgehammer; some were legitimate. But some can be, and even some of the ones you list were part of what I was talking about, albeit minor parts.
Who is ignoring the palaeomagnetic dates? When I said that they were being "ignored", I wasn't meaning in the article, but as relevant to the argument. That is, they were ignored insofar as confirming other dates is concerned.
If you ignore the slight difference between "tentatively" and "essentially", which you specifically said was not the basis for the reversion, then they both say "confirmed". But your version moves the discussion of it to a different place where it's not longer connected to what it's "tentatively" confirming.
Where do you find a statement that "there was no confirmation at all"? Partly from the discussion on this page, I guess, but also from the other comments in the article around that which serve to undermine the "tentative confirmation": "several researchers attempted to resolve the controversy"; "started from the assumption that the older radiometric date was correct"; "Unfortunately the magnetism was also consistent with the younger date, so that the application of this method was not able to settle the controversy.". The effect of these comments is to undermine the confirmation provided to the point of giving the reader the impression that it was useless. Now that impression may indeed be correct insofar as the evolutionists view of the case is concerned after the event, but I don't believe that it's an accurate impression of the way they were viewed at the time they were done.
(If you only give two examples as to why you make a huge reversion, I would expect you to give examples that hold up a little better than this.) You're still concentrating on the trees and not looking at the wood. The reason for the reversion was the change in approach that hadn't been discussed. The examples were examples of that change in approach.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:23, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with that if they are simply making creationism look bad when it's not. I like that one. It's OK to include evolutionary arguments as long as they are faulty, but any evidence that actually shows that creationism is wrong must be kept under wraps.
Anyway, this is getting tedious, and I am going on vacation. I will make limited or no additional contributions until the beginning of September. I hope you are able to fix the article to more forcefully present the creationist case. However if you remove the evolutionary perspective or the facts that support it, I will restore them when I get back.
—Awc 19:48, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
It's OK to include evolutionary arguments as long as they are faulty, but any evidence that actually shows that creationism is wrong must be kept under wraps. That bears no resemblance to what I said.
I hope you are able to fix the article to more forcefully present the creationist case. Sure. I'll revert it. Again.
However if you remove the evolutionary perspective or the facts that support it, I will restore them when I get back. What facts? I'm not saying that there's no facts there, but they are incidental facts, not facts that support an evolutionary perspective. Well, perhaps there is something in there worth salvaging, but not much. I'll analyse the first paragraph about the KBS Tuff:
I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but this seems so easy to fix that I will do it now, before the second stage of my vacation begins. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"The KBS tuff east of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya is a layer of volcanic material between sedimentary layers that contain fossils, including hundreds of hominid specimins,…"
—Okay, that's factual. But is it relevant to pointing out that the scientists discarded dates that didn't suit?
This is a strange thing to criticize, considering that I copied it from you. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"… which makes the dating of the layer important for anthropology."
—Important for evolution, not anthropology. There's a mistake right there.
I would think that the dating of these fossils, for example whether the age is 2 million years or 4500 years, is of critical importance to the study of human origins, not just evolution. But if you like, we can change this word. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"Dating this tuff is unusually difficult, however, because it is composed of particles that have been transported by water and redeposited,…"
—More difficult than some other cases, perhaps, but "unusually" difficult? Anyway, this is attempting to soften the reader up to accept that discarded dates are not usual, and this was a special case.
There is a creationist source for this, although he might just be quoting the first paper by Fitch and Miller. The word used there is "complicated". Another source calls it "particularly difficult". I think I've seen it other places, too. If this is a fact (or a well based inference), then it is irrelevant whether or not it "softens" the reader. If somebody could dig out the reasoning behind this statement, that would be ideal, but it should at least be reported as the opinion of conventional geologists. It is most definitely relevant to the understanding the mainline version of this incident. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"… so older material was mixed with new material when the layer was deposited."
—Evolutionary spin, begging the question. How does anyone know if this was the case? Perhaps it was a mixture of two materials formed about the same time during the Flood? This is not a fact, but an opinion serving to justify the claim that dating was difficult, which serves to justify the inference that this was a special case.
I assume there is geological evidence that a stratum was laid down, cut away, and then eroded into a new stratum. Are you suggesting that this type of geological evidence cannot exist? Even if the one layer is only a few hours older than the other, older is older. But if you like we can try to find language that makes it clear that this is the conventional interpretation of the observations. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"The issue became critical in 1972, when Richard Leakey discovered a human skull below the KBS tuff."
—This statement is false. It implies that there was an issue before the skull was found that became critical when Leakey found the skull. There was no issue until after Leakey found the skull. And as an aside, its "human" status is debatable.[5]
I was using "issue" in a very general way, as an interesting question that one would like to know the answer to. If you think "issue" implies something like "controversy", then we can surely find another word to use here. As for whether or not it is "human", it is certainly of the tribe hominini, the subfamily homininae, and the family hominoidea. Let's call it a hominin or (more generally) a hominid and be done with it. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"Depending on the date assigned to the KBS tuff, this skull would either fit into the framework of human evolution held by anthropologists at that time, or it would require dramatic modifications of those ideas.
—Two options that means that evolution wins or evolution wins. No clear statement that a date might falsify any evolutionary views or even a suggestion that a date might throw the dating methods into queston. Evolution is true, regardless; the worst that contrary evidence can do is cause a change to the details of evolution.
I would consider a falsification of evolutionary views to constitute a dramatic modification of the framework of human evolution, wouldn't you? If your objection is that that possibility should be stated more clearly, we can accommodate that. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"The controversy was resolved…"
—Resolved? Or settled? The former indicates a definite answer, the latter a consensus on which competing date to accept.
I think you are reading too much into the difference between these two words, but in that spirit I see no problem with changing it. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
"… by 1980 when three separate studies showed that the tuff was actually 1.82, 1.87, or 1.89 millions years old, and this became the accepted date."
—As opposed to the five results that previously supported a different date. Oops, can't mention that, it wouldn't make this apparent agreement of methods look so great.
Again, this is a sentence you wrote. Feel free to change it. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
There are few facts in there, and the ones that exist are not relevant, except to support the evolutionary spin trying to disguise the fact that the scientists were willing to discard dates that didn't suit. I don't see a reason to keep it.
There. That wasn't so hard, was it? We can take all your objections into consideration. I'll make these changes (sooner or later), but feel free to beat me to the punch. —Awc 09:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 11:49, 9 August 2012 (UTC)
I would think that the dating of these fossils, for example whether the age is 2 million years or 4500 years, is of critical importance to the study of human origins, not just evolution. Seriously? The only discussion of dating was in the context of secular dating methods, not methods that would yield an age of 4,500 years. As the context was about dates under an evolutionary scheme, they are of importance only to evolution.
There is a creationist source for this, although he might just be quoting the first paper by Fitch and Miller. The word used there is "complicated". And I'm not disputing that it was more complicated that some dating attempts. But "unusually" difficult? Are such mixtures rarely dated?
Another source calls it "particularly difficult" Yeah, well, TalkOrigins.org likes to exaggerate to help make their case. I wouldn't take too much notice of them.
…it should at least be reported as the opinion of conventional geologists. It is most definitely relevant to the understanding the mainline version of this incident. My point is that it's opinion after the fact; a rationalisation. So not necessarily relevant.
Even if the one layer is only a few hours older than the other, older is older. The context was about dating being difficult because of the rock being a mixture of older and younger material. Thus vastly different dates—not differences of the order of a few hours or even weeks—is what was in mind.
I was using "issue" in a very general way, as an interesting question that one would like to know the answer to. If you think "issue" implies something like "controversy", then we can surely find another word to use here. I do think it implies that.
I would consider a falsification of evolutionary views to constitute a dramatic modification of the framework of human evolution, wouldn't you? But that humans still evolved is implicit even in that question. There's no questioning of human evolution itself; just of how it happened.
A couple of times you mentioned sentences I wrote. Perhaps I did, but not in the context that you have now placed them.
We can take all your objections into consideration. You haven't even addressed the main objections, only details of one example I analysed to see if there's anything salvageable.
If a pharmaceutical firm wants to test a new drug to see if it is effective and not dangerous, and accepts the result of such a test with a small number of people showing both, but rejects the result of a test showing that it was ineffective or dangerous and runs further tests until they get results they are happy with, would you consider that they had acted appropriately?
As I've said, the creationist viewpoint is that radiometric dates are unreliable, and that the scientists who supposedly trust them don't really, at least if they give results they don't like. Here's some questions with my answers. Please explain which answers you disagree with.
  • Do (mainstream) scientists always accept radiometric dates? No.
  • After, say, publishing a date, do they routinely do further tests, or do they only do further tests when there is some doubt or controversy about the published date? They do further tests only when there is some doubt or controversy.
  • Is there evidence that this doubt or controversy is often related to what date they think the materials really are according to evolutionary/uniformitarian/etc. views? Yes.
  • Does this not constitute a form of circular reasoning/reinforcement syndrome? Yes
The article is trying to point this out. You don't like the answer, so are trying to justify the process, and the effect is to obscure the salient point (that the scientists who supposedly trust them don't really) with irrelevant detail (irrelevant to the salient point). That objection has not been answered yet.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 23:49, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
Since you have opted not to make a constructive synthesis of my version and your criticisms, I have done so. You seem to think that some of the things reported are not relevant even to the mainstream view of the incident. I believe that all the statements made are relevant to one viewpoint or the other, or to understanding the background. If you are bothered by a particular statement, let me know, and I will either explain its relevance or remove it.
In addition, you seem to think that some essential argument is missing from the article. I don't understand how eliminating information can remedy a missing argument, but maybe we need to add something. Of your four bullets, the first three seem to be something close to observations, although not observations that can easily be supported by references. Since I wouldn't say that your answers are wrong but at most incomplete, I have some hope that we can come to an agreement on how to report these observations. Let me give it a try:
There are a number of methods that scientists use to try to learn something about the relative or absolute date of things, whether they be fossils, rocks, strata, or geological events. Each of these has a different area of application and different things that can go wrong, and, when it is applicable and the prerequisites are fulfilled, suggests different information about the dates. No method, including radiometric dating, is considered incontrovertible. Some methods, like radioactive dating, are relatively self-contained, while other methods depend on a complex network of assumptions and observations such as the current picture of evolution.
As a rule, a measurement is made if it is believed that is will reveal more information than some other measurement that could be made. If the date of an object has consequences for the interpretation of a number of other observations, and if multiple methods have been applied, but they are not consistent, then the motivation to apply additional methods or to run additional checks of the previous results, is high. If the date is not especially important, and if all the available information is consistent, then it is unlikely that additional checks will be made.
I think that captures the essence of your first three bullets. I would not call this situation inherently circular, although it could be in some concrete cases. There is a danger of reinforcing the accepted paradigm, but I don't think this is is quantitatively serious problem. These are questions of interpretation, where we will probably have to report both the creationist and the secular view. Do you think it would be helpful to add a section like this above the discussion of specific cases (Mungo man and KBS tuff)?
—Awc 16:58, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Spin edit break

Since you have opted not to make a constructive synthesis of my version and your criticisms… You mean like you've failed until now to address my main concerns?

You seem to think that some of the things reported are not relevant even to the mainstream view of the incident. No, I think they are not relevant to the point being made in the article, a point that you've failed to demonstrate is not valid to make.

I believe that all the statements made are relevant to one viewpoint or the other, or to understanding the background. But not relevant to the point being made.

If you are bothered by a particular statement, let me know, and I will either explain its relevance or remove it. I have already pointed out that I'm "bothered" by the obfuscation introduced by the extra irrelevant detail. It's not a problem with a particular statement, but with the overall approach.

In addition, you seem to think that some essential argument is missing from the article. I don't understand how eliminating information can remedy a missing argument, but maybe we need to add something. Eliminating information can remedy a missing or obscured argument quite easily. If I argue that "Fred has been married for 20 years", and you change that sentence to "Fred has been married to Freda for 20 years", you've added information which obscures how long Fred has been married, because for all the reader knows he was also married to Meg for ten years before that. Eliminating the added information remedies the situation. Of course in this trivial example there are better ways of wording it (e.g. "Fred has been married (to Freda) for 20 years"), but the point remains that additional information can obscure the point. And of course if the point is how long Fred has been married, and not who to, then the additional information is not relevant.

Of your four bullets, the first three seem to be something close to observations, although not observations that can easily be supported by references. So you agree with my answers for the first three? Good. I don't agree, though, about the inability to support with references. That is the whole point of including the examples of Mungo Man and the KBS tuff.

Since I wouldn't say that your answers are wrong but at most incomplete… "Incomplete" because they don't have the evolutionary spin attached? The point is that you concede that the answers are not wrong.

Let me give it a try: I've already given it a try, and apart from a vague comment about it being "incomplete", you've not said what's wrong with it.

I would not call this situation inherently circular… I would.

There is a danger of reinforcing the accepted paradigm, but I don't think this is is quantitatively serious problem. Of course not. You're an evolutionist. But given that virtually every one of those dates are at odds with eyewitness historical testimony, I'd say that it's an enormously serious problem.

These are questions of interpretation, where we will probably have to report both the creationist and the secular view. What's to interpret? You've already agreed that my first three points are right, and failed to explain how the fourth doesn't follow.

Do you think it would be helpful to add a section like this above the discussion of specific cases (Mungo man and KBS tuff)? No, as it is not clearer than what I had (about evolutionists not accepting their own radiometric dates when it doesn't suit them to do so).

By the way, you've reverted back to a (modified) version of your previous version, with the edit comment "see talk", but not mentioned that edit here, and have still not addressed my objections put on this talk page, other than to conceded that three of my four bullet points are not wrong, and not explained how the fourth doesn't follow. I won't immediately revert, but you've not provided any reason for reinstating your problematic version.

Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 15:57, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

It's really quite simple. The additional facts in my version are relevant to the mainstream view of the topic. You said so yourself. And the policy of this encyclopedia, as of every encyclopedia, is to report the mainstream viewpoint (which doesn't preclude reporting or even supporting alternate viewpoints). You said so yourself.
But — still trying to be constructive — if you think the creationist spin gets swamped by the facts, we could open the section with a pithy summary of that view. Alternatively, we could reduce the whole section to a three line summary and move all those inconvenient facts to a separate article. Either way, the creationist reader will be able to easily avoid reading any information that might disturb his view of the world.
—Awc 06:51, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Granted, the additional points (I'm not conceding that they are all facts; a number seem to be rationalisations) are relevant to the mainstream view. But that's no excuse for obscuring the point being made. I was thinking of mentioning that I have no objection to you putting the mainstream explanation in an article about the tuff (although I haven't considered that in any depth), but that it's out of place in the context of the point being made.
…if you think the creationist spin gets swamped by the facts, we could open the section with a pithy summary of that view. No. The point needs to be supported by evidence, not just be a summary. That's what I had: the article made the point, then followed it up with a couple of examples to show that the point was correct. Reducing it to a summary is, again, imposing an evolutionary mindset that creationist ideas are without support. I recall a letter I wrote to a magazine many years ago (I may have mentioned this before), in which I (a) explained the creationary view, (b) backed it with evidence, and (c) drew a view in favour of the creationary view. The magazine, in their wisdom, edited my letter down by (essentially) omitting (b). So they gave the impression that I (a) explained the creationary view, and (c) without any evidence, drew a conclusion in favour of that. I might have generously considered this merely an innocent but poorly-thought-out space-saving approach to publishing my letter, if it was not for the fact that the editor followed my letter with a rebuttal that took more space than he gave my letter! Clearly, saving space was not the motive.
One of the reasons for having this encyclopædia is to provide balance to the evolutionary imposition of views on supposedly neutral sources such as Wikipedia and government education system. My reply to you when you first arrived about including the mainstream view was not an attempt to be neutral, nor an offer to allow evolutionists to include their view. It was a matter of informing the reader of the mainstream view so that they would be aware of it.
So, back to your claim that The additional facts in my version are relevant to the mainstream view of the topic: What actual facts are there that materially changes any of the four bullet points I listed above? That is, I outlined the point being made and the argument for it. You have not disputed that any of that is correct, except the conclusion which you've not explained how it's not correct. Therefore, it seems that you essentially agree with the point being made: that mainstream scientists do not accept radiometric dating methods when it suits them to reject them. Your proposed rewording said as much, even if not as clearly (e.g. "No method, including radiometric dating, is considered incontrovertible." and "depend on a complex network of assumptions and observations such as the current picture of evolution"). So what is it that you actually dispute?
Do you dispute, for example, that mainstream scientists don't always accept radiometric dates? Do you dispute that the decision to do further tests is influenced on the acceptability of the initial dates? Do you dispute that views about the fit with evolution influence whether or not they accept particular radiometric dates? In other words, apart from the conclusion that this amounts to a form of reinforcement syndrome, what is the mainstream view on these questions that you think should be included? Your "additional facts", as I mentioned, seem more in the order of rationalisations that facts: the testing was difficult, for example. If it was known to be difficult from the start, why didn't they plan further tests right from the start? Doesn't it seem like the claim of difficulty only came after they found that there was a perceived problem with the dates? In other words, after they got dates that they didn't accept or at least found questionable? So is this "difficulty" an actual fact, or a rationalisation?
As for the conclusion that this amounts to a reinforcement syndrome, what are the mainstream facts—as opposed to rationalisation—that show it's not?
Either way, the creationist reader will be able to easily avoid reading any information that might disturb his view of the world. It seems instead that the evolutionist reader is the sensitive one, who can't stand for the creationist view to be presented clearly even on a creationist site. After all, it's the evolutionists who fight tooth and nail to ensure that only their view is taught in schools (even Christian ones in some cases), and in science journals. It's the evolutionists who seem to be are clearly afraid of any criticism of their cherished beliefs, even to the point of banning teachers from citing articles from mainstream science journals when such articles pointed out problems with what was taught in the name of evolution.
The mainstream view can (as a general rule) be included. But that is not licence for it detracting from or undermining a clear presentation of the creationary view.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 15:23, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
An Encyclopaedia is "a reference work that contains information", not "a blog that makes a point". The topic of this section is "KBS tuff", not "the point that mainstream scientists do not accept radiometric dating methods when it suits them to reject them". My goal — and my understanding of the goal of this site — is to clearly report the facts, the creationist interpretation of those facts, and the majority interpretation of those facts. As far as I can tell, you are trying to impose on the article what you considered unfair when it happened to you, "editting it down by omitting the evidence" for the evolutionary view. (It's not really even about evolution, just whether scientists endeavor to be honest and competent.)
I certainly never intended to obscure the creationist interpretation. I don't believe I have, and would immediately change the article if I could see a way to make the creationist point clearer. Unfortunately, you have not been specific about where and how that could be done. Perhaps you could suggest just one small edit that would move the article in the direction you think it needs to move, so we don't have to discuss the entire creation-evolution controversy just to write one section of an article.
You have given one specific example here: the problems with dating the tuff. All either of us really knows is that it has been said to be "complicated" because of transportation by water and redeposition, and that this belief is one of the reasons the mainstream does not see the revision of the dates as indicative of a fundamental problem. That is information that needs to be included in the article. You speculate — This is "original research" since you can cite no sources voicing your suspicions, much less supporting them with facts. — that the relative difficulty was not recognized before the measurement was made, that further tests were not planned from the start, and that no additional measurements would have been made if the results had come out differently. That may or may not be true. If we can find out one way or the other we should report that, too. I haven't been able to find the Fitch and Miller paper online, but maybe I should try to find it in the library.
—Awc 08:49, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
I got a copy of Fitch and Miller. It reports on observations and measurements on four samples:
  • Leakey IA: volcanic tuff, sent in July 1969
  • Leakey II: pumice lumps in a calcareous matrix, sent in July 1969
  • Leakey IB1: pumice lumps, sent in August 1969
  • Leakey IB2: feldspar phenocrysts separated from the tuff, sent in August 1969
The first two samples were sent by Leakey for "an age determination feasibility study". The pumice lumps of Leakey II were never tested because "on examination they were found to be intensively calcified". After "petrographic examination of the tuff sample", "the presence of microcline suggested possible contamination from the wall rocks of the vent. The fine grain-size prevented effective separation of juvenile and possibly non-juvenile components". Nevertheless, an "exploratory" age determination was undertaken. It was this measurement that yielded an apparent age of 220 Ma. My conclusions from this part of the paper are
  • When Leakey sent in the sample, he did not expect a definitive age determination to be possible.
  • Fitch and Miller found several indications that the measurement would be difficult or impossible before they even started.
  • On the basis of recommendations by the dating experts (Fitch and Miller), the man in the field (Leakey) collected less problematical samples and sent them to the lab within a few weeks of the first measurement.
  • The results from all four samples were reported in the same paper, published in April, 1970.
  • Therefore, the measurement on Leakey IA is more accurately described as a preliminary stage of the measurements on Leakey IB1 and IB2, rather than a self-contained measurement that was later rejected.
I haven't worked through the rest of the paper in detail, but they do multiple tests on both samples and claim the "age indications are all consistent", and that the error is less than +/- 10%. It's not clear to me whether that is supposed to include systematic errors or statistical errors only, or whether that is 1-sigma or something else. If the reported errors are 1-sigma, then the discrepancy between this date (2.6 Ma) and the latter consensus date (1.9 Ma) is only 3 sigma, which is not such a big deal. They mention a number of problems, but it's not clear to me how typical or unusual those problems might be. They describe their conclusion as "the best interpretation of the results". They do not mention any suggestions or plans for additional tests.
Now that I know where to get the papers, I will look at some of the later ones when I have time.
—Awc 12:07, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
A small but significant point about the chronology: Your version gives 1972 as the date of the first fission track publication. Correct is 1976. This is important because the 1972 radiometric measurement was the only one ever actually published that gave the older date. The next publication of a radiometric date was in 1975, which placed the younger date on the table. Your version incorrectly implies that there was a time when there was a consensus for the older date based on multiple methods. There was not. —Awc 15:24, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
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