Review of Review Pt 2

Allen Roy (
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 17:39:49 -0700 (MST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 22:52:24 -0600
From: John Woodmorappe <ujwoody@UXA.ECN.BGU.EDU>

(Schimmrich) This problem was first recognized by Compston and Jeffery
(1959), and overcome by the invention of the isochron diagram
(Nicolaysen, 1961).
So, we have Woodmorappe citing a 1958 paper as evidence against
radiometric dating because an anomalous age was reported

(Reply). Schimmrich is correct on this technicality. But this fact does
validate Rb-Sr dating one bit, because (needless to say) the isochron
methods (which do not assume an initial ratio) have their own flaws. And
these flaws cannot be wished away by focusing on the state of knowledge
in 1958, because papers on fallacious isochrons appear in the literature
of the mid-1990's. Again, Schimmrich has shown himself a master of
confusing the issue: raising red herrings about old papers while cleverly
tiptoeing around the REAL issue (the constant stream of disregarded
isotopic-dating results, including Rb-Sr ones, which continue TO THIS

BTW, Schimmrich's reference to me citing "20-30 year old papers" is
disengenous. My paper was written nearly 20 years ago (written in 1978,
published in 1979). And many of the papers first published about 1960
were still cited in summaries written in the 1970's as current
knowledge). What about my 1979 paper in the light of 1990's knowledge?
Most (though not all) of the material written
in my 1979 paper is still valid, and an update paper I am now working on
will show that the flaws of isotopic dating are just as real in the 1990's
as they were in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's (if not more so). So all of
Schimmrich's emphasis on 1960-publications is another of his red herrings.

Schimmrich also conveniently fails to mention that, in the late 1950's,
very dogmatic claims were made about isotopic dating being an "absolute
age". Uniformitarians have since been forced, by the sheet mass and
variety of rationalizations used, to backpedal from this term.

Schimmrich is also insinuating that I have ignored advances in the
technological aspects of isotopic dating. Had he read my work more
carefully, he would have seen that I have discussed just that (p. 102,
near the very beginning of my paper). I pointed out that most discrepant
results CANNOT be blamed on the relatively poor technology of the late
1950's as compared to that of the late 1970's (when my paper was written).
To add to the irony of Schimmrich's false accusations against my paper, I
also had pointed out (p. 102) that the scatter in dates has INCREASED in
spite of major advances in isotope-dating technology.

(Schimmrich) Therefore, this data point does not, in any way,
support Woodmorappe's thesis that present-day techniques of radiometric
dating are unreliable.

(Reply). Whoopee! But what have the proponents of isotopic dating gained
by it? Some of the problems of the isotopic dating of early years have
been solved, but MANY MORE new ones have taken their place. Again,
Schimmrich is misrepresenting my work by implying that I am purposely
focusing on old papers. A cursory look at the bibliography of my 1970 work
shows that most of the cited papers were from the 1970's.

Apart from this, discoveries and advances work both ways. They solve some
problems of
isotopic dating, only to create new ones. For instance, a few decades
ago, the
closure temperature for igneous minerals was thought to be
well-established, and in a narrow range. More recent evidence which I will
cite in my update will show that this seemingly-established fact is a
gross oversimplification at best.

(Schimmrich). Example 4 - Hurley, et al.
All this shows is that the mineral glauconite may be unsuitable
for radiometric dating because it loses argon. It hardly shows that
radiometric dating, in general, is fundamentally flawed.

(Reply). Laughably misleading. Glauconite dating is not the ONLY form of
isotopic dating. Isotopic-dating results from igneous minerals have THEIR
OWN FLAWS, which I discuss. BTW, the controversy over glauconite dating
continues to this day, and geochronologists are divided as to its
suitability. Again, the flawed results do not go away as a result of
improved technology, nor as a result of more recently-published papers!

(Schimmrich) Woodmorappe quoted from what is now an obsolete source.

(Reply). Hogwash! The most recent studies, using the most sophisticated
methodology now available, continue to show frequent anomalous results
from glauconite. So it is NOT a problem ONLY from the early 1960's. BTW,
Schimmrich earlier stated that glauconite may not be
suitable material for dating, and now he implies that more modern
techniques have overcome these problems. He cannot have it both ways. If a
material does not act as a closed system, no amount of technical advances
will read a putatively correct date from it. And, as shown in an upcoming
update-paper, improved technologies also generate a new set of
rationalizations invoked to cope with unwanted results.

(Schimmrich). Example 5 - Neumann. This paper is a compilation of earlier
performed in the
1950s when these techniques were first being developed. According to
the author, much of the data was out of date already by 1960.

(Reply). "Out of date" is a relative term. If I remeasure the isotopes
a rock using 1990's technology and compare it with results from the
measurements using 1950's technology, and get a "bad" result both times,
then the advance in technology is completely irrelevant. Again, Schimmrich
is trying to divert attention from the continuing
flaws of isotopic dating (which most certainly DID NOT END in 1960!) by
citing a few papers which I included from the late 1950's and early
1960's. Never mind the hundreds of papers that I cite from studies which
were indisputably up-to-date as of 1979 (when the paper was written).

(Schimmrich). Example 6 - Evernden
But they go on to argue that it can be used if the samples are
collected carefully with regard to their geologic history

Reply. More misleading doubletalk, or lies, from Schimmrich. As noted in
my 1979 work,
no matter how carefully samples are collected, and screened for seeming
unalteration, results that need to be rejected still routinely occur.

(Schimmrich). As a matter of fact, Dalrymple and Lanphere use the data
Evernden, et al. (1961) to create a figure, reproduced below,
illustrating this very fact:
(Reply). Schimmrich's beautifully-drafted figure, shown in color, again
confuses the issue, AND ITS USE IS A PATENTED FALSEHOOD, as shown in the
ensuing reply.

(Schimmrich). This is most emphatically not an example of errors in
dating! As a matter of fact, the K-Ar method worked exactly as
expected (argon is lost from glauconites with increasing depth of
burial) and this data poses absolutely no problems for geologists.

(Reply). Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. If Schimmrich had practiced what he
preaches about accurately citing authors, he would have seen that I
discussed this matter. Far from
ignoring what Evernden believed, I had
pointed out (p. 114) that, while Evernden felt that deeply-buried
glauconites will
give results too-young, Holmes believed the exact opposite: deeper-buried
glauconites would actually be MORE RELIABLE. Why is Schimmrich lying (yes,
lying) about me ignoring such things as Evernden's ideas, and the depth of
glauconite burial?

Based on these contradictory opinions on glauconite reliability, I could
throw darts at a chart, and explain
geologically, on an after-the-fact basis, whatever "results" I got!

(Schimmrich). Another reason, besides simple burial, for argon loss in
glauconites, is heating due to tectonic activity.

(Reply). Yes, and the presumed effects of heating due to tectonic activity
can be invoked to occur whenever they are conveniently needed to explain
away any unwanted result. Why is Schimmrich telling lies about me ignoring
these matters? Had he read my 1979 paper more
carefully, he would have seen that I had dealt with this matter in
considerable detail. I had shown that heating events are frequently
invoked even when there is no evidence for such a history based on the
rock sample, petrographic examination of slides, or even regional geology.
And for all of Schimmrich's mendacious protestations about me
resting my arguments on out-of-date studies, I cited Morton and Long's
research (1978,
very much up to date in 1979) which had clearly shown that "bad"
glauconite results CANNOT be unambiguously attributed to such things as
former deep burial, tectonic effects, etc. So why is Schimmrich lying
through his teeth about my treatment of glauconite results?

(Schimmrich). Once again, there are absolutely no problems here for

(Reply). Of course not. When it comes to isotopic dating, there never are.
ANY result can be explained-away on an
after-the-fact basis with justification cited from some aspect of local or
regional geology. In this particular instance, justification was
relatively strong. Others are weak, as noted above, and in more detail in
my paper.
However, even arguments for disregarding isotopic results based
on obvious tectonic effects are internally inconsistent. Again, had
Schimmrich spent more time studying my work instead of making a straw man
of it, he would have seen that I HAD discussed tectonic effects on
isotopic results in some detail (pp. 114-115). I had shown that, as if to
spite the rationalizations of uniformitarians, unexpected "good"
isotopic results turn up even when the rock is from a geologic environment
obviously affected by heating from nearby intrusions, tectonic events,
weathering, etc.

(Schimmrich). Why didn't Woodmorappe
discuss the 40 glauconite dates listed in the data table of this
paper that were well within 10% of the expected geologic age?

(Reply). Simple. Why on earth should I believe SOME results when so many
others are explained away. Again, the web of rationalizations available to
geologists is so extensive and so frequently invoked that it deprives ALL
of the isotopic results of credibility. And why does Schimmrich first
say that the 1960 papers are obsolete, and berate me for mentioning them,
and now he is USING THEM HIMSELF (by implying that the "good" results from
these very "obsolete"
papers should be accepted?) Is he not engaging in EXACTLY the type of
special pleading which is TYPICAL of geochronology: we are too make
nothing of the "bad" results because the studies were done about 1960, and
are now obsolete, and yet we are to make something out of the "good"

(Schimmrich). At most it shows
that one should be careful when dating buried glauconites with the K-
Ar method which is something that geologists already know (and is

(Reply). Poppycock. Again, all of the care in the world which
geologists use, to this date, does not prevent the constant appearance of
inconsistent and obviously not-credible results. And why is Schimmrich
falsehoods when he knows (or should know, at least if he wants to give an
opinion on it) that careful selection of glauconite results does NOT
guarantee their supposed reliability?

(Schimmrich). Example 7 - Lyons & Livingston. What reason do the authors
give for omitting MK 37-73 (p. 1809)?

(Reply). You can always think up of a reason after-the-fact. And if the
point did not belong on the isochron for geologic reasons which
Schimmrich thinks are obvious, why was it placed there in the first
place? Only to be rejected AFTER the result was obtained? It was
clearly a trial balloon. But then again, so are all isotopic results.

(Schimmrich). The basic question is: Is there any basis for the omission
of the
MK 37-73 data point from the isochron or is it just done to "fudge"
the data to obtain a more favorable result?

(Reply). Of course, any basis can be "found" afterwards. And anyone
familiar with the construction of isochrons for dating knows that there is
considerable subjectivity in
deciding which of the rocks were co-magmatic (a necessary assumption to
have an ostensibly-valid isochron). This subjectivity increases as one
must include rocks of ever-different petrological composition in order to
have a
useable spread of isotopic ratios (so that an isochron can be
constructed). So the opportunity for fudging constantly exists because you
can always later reject points (and convincingly justify their exclusion)
on an after-the-fact basis, if the desired result is not obtained.

(Schimmrich). Woodmorappe may very well disagree with this interpretation,
but if he accuses the authors of "fudging" data he has a responsibility
to at least discuss it and to explain why he disagrees.

(Reply). If Schimmrich had bothered to read my paper more carefully, he
would have seen that I have done exactly what he berates me for not doing!
My reason, then and now, is
the fact that all of these interpretations are on an after-the-fact basis.
Again, these isochrons had been constructed as trial balloons.
If the geologic grounds for not including points on an isochron
(which Schimmrich has spent so much time prattling about) had been
followed, the isochron would not have been constructed in the first
place, and there would have been nothing to discuss!

(Schimmrich). Example 8 - Dott & Dalziel
Fair enough, they simply decided to test, using radiometric
dating, the commonly held assumption that the two sequences were
correlative since similar assumptions in the past had been incorrect.

(Reply). Granted that there had been errors in lithologic correlation of
PreCambrian rocks. But the fact remains that the authors still felt that
the age-equivalence had been COMPELLING. (to use Dott and Dalziel's very
words, which cannot be obfuscated by false charges of me quoting out of
(BTW, I have done field work on these
rocks, and agree with the extreme similarity of these lithological
sequences). So the isotopic results still contradicted what the
best evidence appeared to show. And that is far from the only example of
isotopic results contradicting common-sense geology! (see my 1979 work for
many more examples.)

(Schimmrich). the limits of the method's sensitivity and would therefore
unreliable. There were clearly defined reasons for considering the
age to be problematic.

(Reply). Again, an isotopic date that is a trial balloon. It shows how
geochronologists want to have it both ways.
First they say that low-potassium results will be of questionable
reliability, then they go ahead and date the rock anyway. If they like the
result, they will make nothing more of the low-K and at least
provisionally accept
the result. But, as in this case, if they don't like the result, they can
always fall back on the line that this result is untrustworthy anyway
because of its low K-content. Very scientific, this popping of
isotopic-dating trial balloons.
And low-K content is another of Schimmrich's red herrings. The
fact is, there are plenty of "bad" results which have high K-levels.

(Schimmrich). What about the spread of K-Ar and Rb-Sr dates from 1.1 to
1.6 b.y? Yes,
the dating yielded a range of values, but a range of values
was expected since the rocks had been subjected to metamorphism.

(Reply). Yes and no. Again, had Schimmrich bothered to read my 1979 work
more carefully, he would have seen that I had discussed this issue. I had
showed that, while metamorphism was known and a spread of results was
expected, in some cases this spread of values has taken on an
absurdly-large range.

(Schimmrich). I believe that Dott and Dalziel (1972) have made a
case for the Baraboo sequence being younger than the Animikie

(Reply). Just the opposite. Schimmrich is clearly the one who is
misrepresenting the cited authors! As noted earlier, Dott and Dalziel had
first believed, as appeared to be common-sense geology, that the Baraboo
and Animikie Sequences had been contemporaneous. They had even used the
phrase "SEEMINGLY COMPELLING," which usually is considered a strong
confidence in accuracy. It was only AFTER the
isotopic results came in that they came up with a geologic justification
for the isotopic results having given such differing ages for the two sets
of sequences.

(Schimmrich). While more work needs to be done on these rocks, Woodmorappe
little basis for simply ignoring the data and dismissing their work
with a sarcastic comment.

(Reply). On what planet has Schimmrich been reading my paper? My argument
is based on the similarity in lithologies and sequence, not sarcastic