I found this interesting and thought I'd post it here since the group
is geographically diverse and known to offer varying insights. If
anybody has some thoughts, I'd love to hear them:
Figures don't lie????
In my finance days, they'd ask us what the answer was, we'd ask them what
they want/need it to be. And we used to same set of figures to get to any
of the above answers.
Figures *only* lie
Or said another way, 3 type of lies: Lies, Damn Lies and statistics.
It's widely credited to Benjamin Disraeli, before Churhill was born.
Mark Twain popularized the phrase in the US, but was not the originator.
It may have been around before Disraeli, but the accreditations aren't
The data is the data. What conclusions are drawn from that data
is where it can get messy. If you find a fossilized bone that carbon
dating provides a range for its age of 100 to 150 million years old,
and there are similar fossilized bones who's age have been determined
by other methods and have a similar age, and are similar types of
it's reasonable and logical to conclude that the planet on which the
fossils were found - is probably NOT Seven Days old, NOR only 7,000
years old. If, despite the data, you choose to believe that the
in this case Earth, is only 7,000 years old because a document you
believe is true "says" - with out any emperical data to support it -
that the fossilized data is wrong - then you're taking The Book 's/
Document's version of how old the earth is stricly on faith, not the
or, using your example, if one takes carbon dating to be accurate when
measuring time periods on the order of millions of years despite the fact
that it has been proven to be inaccurate and unreliable for measurements
conducted on items for which a known date can be used (i.e. a control
sample with an unrelated measurement methodology), then one is letting ones
desires drive what they think the data is.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
C-14 dating relies on an isotope whose half-life is only a couple
thousand years. In order to date anything older - such as dinosaur
bones - the fossil is dated in context. If the strata in which the
fossil is located dates to 65 million years, then rational people
conclude the fossil dates to that epoch. Radiometric dating methods
rely on isotopes whose half-lives are significantly longer. Because of
the slow decay of these isotopes, we can date rocks as old as the
earth - 4.5 billion years old to the surprise of some - if we had any
rocks as old as the earth.
;!) I understand the theory of carbon dating but you cannot prove that it
is accurate. Somewhere along the line there could be a tiny mistake in a
calculation that will not show up for another 4.5 billion years. Until then
IMHO it is a wild guess that could be wildly inaccurate. If it were
accurate why is it that the fossil does not age. It was discovered 50 years
ago and is the same age today as it was then. Should it not be
4,500,000,050 years old now?
If there was confidence in the accuracy it would be given a creation date
and the age could be determined on any given day. 4.5 billion years is
extremely vague and is probably inaccurate. Perhaps the fossil is only 4.3
billion years old, that would throw carbon dating off by 100,000,000 years.
That does not sound accurate.
And while I am on this soap box, every so many years the time is changed
because the earth is slowing down. Years are measured by the time it takes
for the earth to revolve around the sun. 4.5 billion years ago, did the
earth revolve around the sun at the same speed? ;~) What if the earth only
took 364 days to complete a revolution 4.5 billion years ago. How far off
would that throw the dating calculations off?
The other day my wife and I were looking through a telescope and we both
spied a younger woman, my wife quickly pointed out that the other woman was
1.5 billion Light Years Away.
On Feb 17, 8:11 pm, tough guy or gal Mark & Juanita
Or, using your example, if one observes that the method fails due
to confounding factors (typically contamination) in some cases
and from that reach the conclusion that the method is, in general,
invalid then one is letting one's desires drive their conclusions.
How about the 'simplifying assumption' that the planet in question _was_
created "Seven Days" (or any _other_ arbitrary period) ago, _including_
'internal evidence' of say, 2.3 billion years of existence?` All the
available data =is= as consistent with _that_ hypothesis, as it is with
any 'scientific' hypothesis.
Inferences drawn from data are just that.
If you can't construct *many* test cases to very that things _will_ happen
as claimed, *whatever* one postulates to be the 'truth' is nothing more than
That said, _not_ all opinions are of equal 'worth' or 'value'. One that allows
one to accurately predict future events is more valuable that one that asserts,
in effect, that 'prediction is futile'. Something that says "things were
constructed 'by design' so that they always follow the observed patterns"
is FUNCTIONALLY EQUIVALENT TO one that simply says 'things always follow
these observed patterns."
Your argument itself confuses data with conclusions. The data is that
carbon-14 is X percent of the object's carbon content. An age range
isn't data, it's a conclusion drawn from that data. The conclusion is
based on certain assumptions. If those assumptions are faulty, so is
the conclusion. (I'm not arguing for any particular conclusion, just
pointing out the fallacy of the argument you are making to support your
Oh no, there ARE several others including:
1) the object being tested was not contaminated with more
recent, or older carbon.
2) the ratio of C14/C12 in the atmosphere has remained
constant (which it has not --the observed change in the 20th
century is some of the strongest evidence that the rise
in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is anthropogenic,
DAGS "Suess effect"). It also varies with variations in cosmic
3) That C14 was not preferentially incorporated into the object
vs C12, or vice versa.
Those are only assumptions until they are tested. If validated,
they become conclusions. In some cases other studies permit
calibrations to compensate for the inaccuracy of the assumption.
For instance, measuring the C14/C12 ration in tree rings allows
a calibration to compensate for '2', above.
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