Re: Some Comments on Radiometric dating.

From: allenroy (
Date: Wed Jan 22 2003 - 19:48:57 EST

  • Next message: Alexanian, Moorad: "RE: An interesting essay for evangelicals"

    Jim Armstrong (
    ) Wrote:

    I'm not a geologist, and I take your word on the evident age inversion.
    But I have this observation. It seems, even somewhat implicit in your
    description, that there is a backdrop of a substantial body of data
    correlating geological layers and ordering of radiometrically determined
    ages (by more than one technique as I faintly recall) that has resulted
    in radiometric aging being broadly accepted tool for age determination.
    The geologic dynamics of the Earth are certainly complex, and it is not
    unusual to find a small number of anomalies in even well-understood
    systems with this degree of complexity.

    **The problem is, when you have a theory, all it takes is one occasion
    to falsify it. At that point, the theory needs to be modified or
    rejected. Radiometric dating has never been modified although falsified
    many times. The assumptions have never been modified to fit reality.
     Instead, the blame for the falsification is put on Nature. The theory
    always holds true, but it is Nature that messes with the results.
     Woodmorappe calls this the fallacy of CDMBN [Credit Dating Method (for
    ostensible successes); Blame Nature (for failures)]. (The Mythology of
    Modern Dating Methods, 1999, pg. 2)

    It is only after dates have been computed and found to be not what was
    expected that either the raw data is modified according to speculation
    on why the data was 'incorrect' or the computed dates are rejected due
    to issues like I pointed out.

    You appear to feel that the anomalies such as you describe occur in
    sufficient numbers to overcome the large amount of data that correlated
    well enough to allow radiometric dating to be broadly accepted by so
    many earth scientists. Further, you suggest that the biases of a pretty
    substantial number of scientists compromised enough of the data
    underlying the acceptance of radiometric dating so as to invalidate the
    technique. I have a bit of a problem with that. It seems to me like
    radiometric dating has been vetted by too many people, over too long a
    period, by too many alternative processes, and through too many
    noncontradictory findings to easily set it aside in the presence of one
    or a small number (I am guessing) of anomalous configurations like the
    Uinkaret. That is not to say that the Uinkaret should be ignored (and I
    bet it isn't!), because it has the potential to teach us when understood
    (part of your message). But it seems to me that the weight of this
    relatively isolated finding is not sufficiently persuasive to discard
    the conclusions drawn from the much larger body of samplings and
    correlations requisite to the general acceptance of radiometric dating.

    Is this something more than anomaly?

    In the same book, Woodmorappe discusses two other fallacies which keep
    radiometric dating alive -- ATM (Appeal to Marginalization) and ATT
     (Appeal to Technicalities). ATM is what you are referring to here.
     The significance of contrary evidence is belittled as rare or occuring
    only under limited circumstances. After all, there is so much "good"
    evidence how could it be wrong? Right? There are so many people who
    accept Isotopic dating, they couldn't be wrong? Right?

    I recommend reading Woodmorappe's book "The Mythology of Modern Dating
    Methods" whether you agree with him or not. He deals in detail with the
    very questions you are raising. Your local university library probably
    has the book. If not, any library can "interlibrary loan" the book for you.


    "I have been shown that, without Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of a state of things differing in many respects from the present. But the time of their existence, and how long a period these things have been in the earth, are only to be understood by Bible history. It may be innocent to conjecture beyond Bible history, if our suppositions do not contradict the facts found in the sacred Scriptures. But when men leave the word of God in regard to the history of creation, and seek to account for God's creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a boundless ocean of uncertainty. Just how God accomplished the work of creation in six literal days, he has never revealed to mortals. His creative works are just as incomprehensible as his existence."  Ellen Gould Harmon White,  1864

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Wed Jan 22 2003 - 19:48:14 EST