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Author Topic:   Reliable Radiometric Dates as an Artifact of Assumptions
Coyote
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Posts: 5786
Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 16 of 30 (590084)
11-05-2010 7:51 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Itinerant Lurker
11-05-2010 7:25 PM


Re: Parchance
I couldn't get your link to work.

The chart you have shows the "calibration curve" established using tree rings and other annular data. This provides a correction for atmospheric fluctuations.

Creationists like to make a big deal out of the fluctuations in C14 levels in the atmosphere, and for some reason they don't think that we know about those fluctuations or that we haven't corrected for those fluctuations.

This curve is the result of a lot of work to make just those corrections. And nothing changes by more than about 10% anyway.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by Itinerant Lurker, posted 11-05-2010 7:25 PM Itinerant Lurker has responded

Replies to this message:
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jar
Member
Posts: 28839
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 17 of 30 (590086)
11-05-2010 7:56 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Coyote
11-05-2010 7:51 PM


Re: Parchance
And when that ploy fails they misrepresent the additional calibrations done such as testing for residual carbon in the machine itself.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Coyote, posted 11-05-2010 7:51 PM Coyote has not yet responded

  
Itinerant Lurker
Member (Idle past 69 days)
Posts: 67
Joined: 12-12-2008


Message 18 of 30 (590088)
11-05-2010 8:18 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Coyote
11-05-2010 7:51 PM


Re: Parchance
I think I fixed the link. It's a difficult discussion because all that's happening is requests for more and more detailed explanations until the level of detail is so technical that most people become lost - at which point it's claimed that the process is so convoluted that it must be based on too many assumptions that may or may not be correct.

More than likely I'm simply feeding into it by actually answering all these questions. That this discussion will likely never end is evidenced by the fact that it's now 72 pages long (1,068 posts) and the site admins are threatening to shut it down because it's becoming a server issue. . .but I just hate not getting the last word dammit!

Lurker


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Coyote, posted 11-05-2010 8:29 PM Itinerant Lurker has not yet responded
 Message 20 by NoNukes, posted 11-05-2010 11:27 PM Itinerant Lurker has responded
 Message 24 by Percy, posted 11-06-2010 8:41 AM Itinerant Lurker has not yet responded

    
Coyote
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Posts: 5786
Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 19 of 30 (590090)
11-05-2010 8:29 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Itinerant Lurker
11-05-2010 8:18 PM


Re: Parchance
Typical creationist tactic.

They won't accept any evidence that contradicts their narrow religious beliefs, no matter how detailed.

It's sad to see minds deliberately blinded to what is evident for everyone else to see. A few of them even still argue that the earth is the center of the universe.

But one of them, on another site, took the prize for his reference to the "second law of thermal documents" in place of "second law of thermodynamics." That shows the level of technical prowess we're dealing with in many of these discussions. They know nothing about science, but feel free to lecture working scientists on how they should be practicing their profession.

As Heinlein noted, "Belief gets in the way of learning."


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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NoNukes
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Posts: 9550
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 20 of 30 (590103)
11-05-2010 11:27 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Itinerant Lurker
11-05-2010 8:18 PM


Re: Parchance
Itinerant.

What is the technical expertise of the people you are debating? Are they really going to be able to analyze the data they are asking you for or are they just blowing smoke?

More than likely I'm simply feeding into it by actually answering all these questions

Yep. And the high fiving will start the moment you quit posting!


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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kbertsche
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Posts: 1359
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007
Member Rating: 5.8


Message 21 of 30 (590108)
11-06-2010 12:51 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Itinerant Lurker
11-03-2010 11:06 PM


Re: Thanks
quote:
Sweet. I think I've gotten the issues down concisely as they're going to get over there:

Ryan R:
I've already told you why I'm skeptical of outliers and such, and you were trying to get me that data. If you do, I'll be able to show you how those outliers are treated and what that implies and, if you provide me with data from multiple tests used on the same sample and a description of how the instruments are calibrated, I'll be able to show you whether or not there are relationships in the data (correlations), or if they're coincidence (based on insufficiency of data to establish relationship or frequency of falling outside the appropriate standard deviations on either side within the accepted confidence interval), or if they are actually codependents (as in calibrated off of one another or according to similar assumptions).

I'm going to try and turn this into a sensible question to email off to Beta Analytic, are there any other suggestions anyone has on where to look for the above information? Thanks.

Lurker



Calibration is simple in principle, but gets somewhat tricky and detailed in practice. To really understand it requires some practical knowledge of analytical instrumentation and measurements (certainly more than your critics seem to have).

In principle, one frequently measures a "blank" with essentially no radiocarbon to correct for drift of the instrument's "zero" level, and a "standard" of known (roughly modern) activity to correct for instrument gain. With these two calibration standards, one can correct for both the zero offset and the gain of the instrument. But the instrument will drift over a time scale of hours, so these samples need to be measured on a similar time scale, and the instrument drift needs to be corrected with a linear or a more complex fit.

I wrote up a critique of ICR's RATE study a couple of years ago. This is concise and dense, but may have some useful information. You can find it at a number of places:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/carbon-kb.htm
http://www.reasons.org/...ocarbon-intrinsic-or-contamination
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ark-hoax/rate-critique.html


This message is a reply to:
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Itinerant Lurker
Member (Idle past 69 days)
Posts: 67
Joined: 12-12-2008


Message 22 of 30 (590114)
11-06-2010 3:05 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by NoNukes
11-05-2010 11:27 PM


Re: Parchance

What is the technical expertise of the people you are debating? Are they really going to be able to analyze the data they are asking you for or are they just blowing smoke?

One is ". . .a professional researcher dealing with primary and secondary qualitative and quantiative research." and essentially makes the claim that scientists simply aren't as qualified as analysts to determine whether radiometric dating data show actual relationships or just coincidences.

quote:

I would like to look at the data, or at the very least the statistics on the data, because while I think that many scientists might be very good at aspects in their field, the worldview one approaches data with affects one's interpretation of said data. . .So, while biologists, geologists, astronomers, etc, may be very good at aspects of their job, they are not trained in practical logic and their critical analysis skills seem to be molded on the job to suit the going assumptions. Just because an archeologist may be very successful, it doesn't mean they will arrive at the proper interpretation of the data, either because they aren't an expert in critical analysis, or because they are simply excluding the possible as impossible from the outset.

Needless to say I'm more than a little dubious on that point. I don't doubt that he knows a lot about analysis. . .I'm just not seeing how it renders him so uniquely capable of understanding the data. For example, this definitely sounds all fine and good:

quote:

Guassian sampling is a standard sampling method that determines the statistical likelihood of results found deviating from the mean (average) results within certain thresholds (standard deviations). So, the probability that a result will likely fall within a certain range (standard deviation) can determined in advance, statistical.

So, based on size of your sample, the size of your sampling universe (referring to all potential sample out there – mathematically anything beyond I think it’s 20,000 is considered infinite because the difference after that is negligible), and the confidence interval in which you wish to operate (e.g. do you want an MoE within 95% confidence, meaning the MoE will be within ~2 standard deviations of the mean 19 times out of 20) the MoE is determined in advance as a probability to land within that range.


I just don't see how that's particularly relevant to showing that radiometric dating is inherently flawed. To be fair, though, it's not as if my own technical expertise is anything to speak of as I'm very much the aspiring layman here.

Holy crap it's late.

Lurker

Edited by Itinerant Lurker, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
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 Message 25 by nwr, posted 11-06-2010 8:48 AM Itinerant Lurker has not yet responded
 Message 26 by kbertsche, posted 11-06-2010 9:40 AM Itinerant Lurker has not yet responded

    
Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15929
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 23 of 30 (590115)
11-06-2010 4:09 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Itinerant Lurker
11-06-2010 3:05 AM


Re: Parchance
mathematically anything beyond I think it’s 20,000 is considered infinite because the difference after that is negligible)

It is good that mathematicians don't burn people at the stake for heresy. 'Cos otherwise he'd be the first on the bonfire.

"20,000 is considered infinite because the difference after that is negligible"?

Good grief.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by Itinerant Lurker, posted 11-06-2010 3:05 AM Itinerant Lurker has not yet responded

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Percy
Member
Posts: 15632
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 24 of 30 (590135)
11-06-2010 8:41 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by Itinerant Lurker
11-05-2010 8:18 PM


Re: Parchance
Itinerant Lurker writes:

...it's now 72 pages long (1,068 posts) and the site admins are threatening to shut it down because it's becoming a server issue.

I wouldn't buy that reason if I were you. I followed the link you provided in Message 1, and they're running vBulletin, probably the most robust bulletin board software out there. While poor database design could cause performance issues in long threads, this is very unlikely with vBulletin. One of their claims to fame is their ability to handle huge bulletin boards with hundreds of forums, thousands of threads, and millions and millions of messages. So vBulletin is unlikely to be the problem.

Another potential source of the problem is database size restrictions imposed by their server. Do they periodically have to delete threads or archive them to HTML? I see that they do have some archives, but only for three of their many forums. I would be very surprised if database size restrictions were an issue because their bulletin board already has 1,343,932 messages as of this writing. The thousand messages in your thread is less than 0.1% of the total and couldn't possibly be a significant problem.

My bet is that their wanting to shut down the thread has nothing to do with server issues.

--Percy


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5519
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 6.8


(1)
Message 25 of 30 (590136)
11-06-2010 8:48 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Itinerant Lurker
11-06-2010 3:05 AM


Re: Parchance
So apparently the guy is a statistician.

Not a mathematical statistician, mind you - only a plain old statistician who follows procedures but doesn't really understand how they work.

They say "If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail." Statistical inference is this guy's hammer.


Jesus was a liberal hippie
This message is a reply to:
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kbertsche
Member
Posts: 1359
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007
Member Rating: 5.8


Message 26 of 30 (590147)
11-06-2010 9:40 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Itinerant Lurker
11-06-2010 3:05 AM


Re: Parchance
quote:
One is ". . .a professional researcher dealing with primary and secondary qualitative and quantiative research." and essentially makes the claim that scientists simply aren't as qualified as analysts to determine whether radiometric dating data show actual relationships or just coincidences.


As nwr says, this guy sounds like he understands statistics at some level, but not necessarily their particular application to scientific instruments or physics experiments. Radiocarbon AMS started in nuclear physics laboratories, using the same sort of statistical techniques that are used in nuclear physics. These techniques should be perfectly adequate for routine radiocarbon dating. More sophisticated techniques have been applied to generation of calibration curves, especially to "wiggle matching" to match up data from trees, lake varves, speleothems, etc (as in the calibration curve you presented).

You might want to show your critics some of the particular statistical techniques that are used in radiocarbon dating; I think they'd be satisfied with the rigor of the analysis. Here are some links:
Various papers in Radiocarbon 40(1)
Various papers in Radiocarbon 51(4)
Philosophy of science paper by Steel

Edited by kbertsche, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9550
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 27 of 30 (590157)
11-06-2010 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by kbertsche
11-06-2010 9:40 AM


Satisfied??
It should be a good start, but I don't believe the professional researcher will ever be satisfied. The data contradicts the hyper-literal reading of Genesis and is wrong by definition. Scientists are incompetent and biased even when they are trying to criticize the work of their peers. It's simply a matter of finding uncovering the error or the conspiracy.

If Ryan were debating in a neutral forum, he'd have to be the one to provide proof that the scientist doing dating make the errors he's claiming. But in this case, Itinerant is on the hook for supplying indisputable evidence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by kbertsche, posted 11-06-2010 9:40 AM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

    
NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9550
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 28 of 30 (590199)
11-06-2010 5:29 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Dr Adequate
11-06-2010 4:09 AM


Sample size vs Population Size.
Doc, I think the '20,000 is about infinite' was sloppily stated but the intended meaning is not too far from the truth.

The skeptical statistician was probably talking about the random sample size needed to sample a given population size. For a 95% confidence interval the random sample size does indeed increase very slowly as the population size increase above 20000. For a population of 20,000, the required sample size is not much different from that required for a population of 107 or even for infinitely large populations.


This message is a reply to:
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Itinerant Lurker
Member (Idle past 69 days)
Posts: 67
Joined: 12-12-2008


Message 29 of 30 (590830)
11-10-2010 12:39 AM


NoNukes called it
Ahhhhh, NoNukes called it. After all that and a seriously epic-sized post the response I got to actually providing all that information was, and I quote:


Yipee. So what?

Thanks for your help everyone, it's been fun taking a break from lurking here.

Lurker

Edited by Itinerant Lurker, : No reason given.


    
Coyote
Member
Posts: 5786
Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 30 of 30 (623486)
07-10-2011 10:14 PM


Bump for Mazzy
In the Why are there no human apes alive today? thread Mazzy Gish Galloped over into radiometric dating (Message 790).

I will address just the portions dealing with radiocarbon dating. I will let others here address other radiometric methods and the abuses we see from creationists.

Among many other mistakes in Mazzy's post:

Mazzy writes:

With Carbon dating you need closed systems which you have really no idea if this is so, and you need to know the carbon composition at the time the organic matter was alive. You cannot possibly know and can only best guess.

For some reason Mazzy throws these two links in with a discussion of dating fossils:

Mazzy writes:

http://www.specialtyinterests.net/carbon14.html
http://www.varchive.org/ce/c14.htm

Mazzy then goes on to claim:

Mazzy writes:

Here is Carbon used to date the earth to 100,000 years. Much is based on assuptions that are simply different to yours.

http://ldolphin.org/sewell/c14dating.html

All three links are to creationist websites which make more or less the same silly arguments, refuted time and time again.

Let's look at the points Mazzy picks out:

The first point, that carbon-14 dating requires a closed system, is silly. Any sample that is contaminated from the current carbon reservoir (i.e., is an open system) will end up younger than it should be, not older. If it is excessively contaminated it will end up as "modern." I don't know why that should worry creationists. (I guess they think that contamination from the outside will make samples date older or something.)

The second point is that we need to know the carbon composition of the organic matter when it was alive. Assuming you mean the isotope ratios of C-14 to C-12, that's not too hard either. We can get a lot of information about a sample from the C-13 reading. Plant material should produce a C-13 reading of about -25, while shell should be near 0. Other materials will also have expected readings. If you date a sample that has a C-13 reading far from what it should have, that sample is probably unreliable.

Or, if by "carbon composition" you mean the levels of C-14 in the atmosphere at the time the sample was alive, that's easy too. You agreed that tree rings are accurate, so by locating tree rings of particular ages, and then radiocarbon dating them, we can see the degree to which the radiocarbon method reflects the actual date. After doing a lot of these we can set up a calibration curve to correct for the small fluctuations that have occurred in atmospheric carbon. The calibration changes are <10% at the most. We can do the same thing using a number of other materials, such as coral. Not surprisingly, the calibration curves using various materials agree with each other quite closely.

Your final point, that Carbon-14 is returning dates of 100,000 is also silly. With the current equipment the maximum age that can be dated is about 50,000 years. Beyond that the background becomes the primary signal. Ages in the >50,000 range generally reflect contamination. When dealing with such tiny amounts of C-14, breathing on a sample of radioactively dead carbon could be a major source of contamination. That's why scientists are carefully dating materials which have no C-14 -- they are trying to determine the residual contamination in their equipment! (See below.)

Your three links cite a lot of garbage to try to make one believe that the radiocarbon method is unreliable. I'll just deal with two (out of many silly claims):

One which creationists love to cite is "coal" that should be hundreds of millions of years old being found to be 1680 years old. Wrong! This goes back to a silly mistake originally made in Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, and Carl Weiland’s The Answers Book (1992). They misread a Radiocarbon article which described "coal" samples as that age, but they didn't realize that the article was translated from Russian and was referring to charcoal in a cultural site. The actual date description in Radiocarbon is as follows:

Mo-334. River Naryn, Kirgizia — 1680 ± 170. A.D. 270

Coal from the cultural layer on the left side of the r. Naryn (Kirgizian SSR), 3 km E of the mourh of the r. Alabuga (41° 25′ N Lat, 74° 40′ E Long). The sample was found at a depth of 7.6 m in the form of scattered coals in a loamy rock in deposits of a 26-m terrace. According to the archaeological estimations the sample dates from the 5 to 7th centuries A.D. The sample was found by K. V. Kurdyumov (Moscow State Univ.) in 1962. Comment: the find serves as a verification of archaeological data on the peopling of the Tien Shan.

This simple mistake by Ham et al. has been included in virtually every creationist article attempting to trash radiocarbon dating. It is an error passed from creationist to creationist, none of whom knows a thing about the subject. Certainly none bothered to look up the original Radiocarbon article enough to note that the report dealt with archaeological rather than geological samples. (Creation "science" as usual, eh?)

A second silly mistake by creationists dealing with radiocarbon dating is their treatment of diamonds which returned radiocarbon ages within the last 100,000 years. That's proof, creationists claim, that the earth is young. Wrong! Scientists consider it important to identify how much of a radiocarbon signal comes from contamination within the equipment they use. The way they test for this is to use materials that are radiocarbon dead and see what readings they get. Coal and diamonds are among these. When they get C-14 readings they can see what the baseline equipment contamination is.

Ever eager to grab on to "evidence" for a young earth, and knowing little to nothing about the subject, creationist authors gladly proclaim this as either evidence for a young earth or as evidence for the unreliability of the radiocarbon method. It is neither.

An excellent article discussing this whole problem, and more, and written by an EvC member, can be found here: RATE’s Radiocarbon: Intrinsic or Contamination?

In short, the links you cite as evidence that the radiocarbon method is flawed, or based on unsupported assumptions, are typical creationist nonsense. And so far, you haven't learned enough to tell the difference.

But here is your big chance!

You can provide any rebuttals or fresh evidence in this thread, that radiocarbon or radiometric dating is flawed.

But be advised: you can't just troll the creationist websites with no personal understanding of whether they are right or wrong. They tend to lie, misrepresent, misinterpret, ignore contrary data, and otherwise dissemble. And so far, you have fallen victim to their attempted deceptions.

Fortunately, there are several of us here who know something about radiometric dating and who can advise you where you (and they) are going wrong.


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