Re: [asa] Denver RATE Conference (Thousands...Not Billions)_Part 6 & The End

From: Steven M Smith <>
Date: Fri Oct 12 2007 - 19:54:18 EDT
You ask a couple of questions in your recent post.  Let me address the last one first. 
  >>Neither the photo of the RATE project team nor the acknowledgments nor the list of authors includes Gary Parker or Lawrence Ford. Do either of them have scientific "credentials?"<<
Neither Lawrence Ford nor Gary Parker were actually "RATE scientists".  Lawrence Ford was introduced at the RATE conference as Director of something or another (perhaps Media Communications??) at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).  I went to the ICR website looking for Lawrence Ford and all I found were a few news articles that he had written.  I could not find or confirm his official position at ICR.  His role at the conference was that of "Master of Ceremonies".  He introduced speakers; pushed literature; gave us details about breaks, snacks, lunch, and restrooms; and read questions during the final Q & A session.  Lawrence never claimed to be a scientist and, if my memory is correct, actually stated that he was not but was impressed to be in the company of such august scientific minds.  He was the 'common man' that everyone in the audience could relate to.
Gary Parker has a scientific background and was included in the Q & A as a 'RATE scientist' but was apparently not one of the RATE researchers.  I see that in Part 5 ( I said that I had given his full introduction in Part 1 (; but I didn't.  That was my oversight.  Lawrence introduced Parker to us as having a BA in Biochemistry from Walbash College, plus an MS and a PhD in Biology & Paleontology from Ball State.  He was a Biology Professor at a few Christian colleges including Dort & Clearwater, FL and has written secular science textbooks. He was a science consultant to the original ICR museum and to the new AiG Creation Museum. He is an adjunct professor for ICR and has his own Creation Adventures Museum ministry in Arcadia, FL.  Gary Parker is apparently one of the cadre of YEC speakers for ICR.  His two talks were not scientific presentations, they were the rambling mixture of science, theology, humorous stories, and sermon typically found at any YEC presentation.  He sounded like a preacher to me.
  >>In scanning over your report again, I noted the rather short discussion of "isochron discordances" at the RATE conference. Perhaps it is because neither Snelling nor Austin were there and this was their specialty. ... [snipped] ... Do you recall if DeYoung gave any numbers in that section of the talk? Did he say how big the discrepancies are and did they have a quantitative solution that resolves them? <<
Yes, this section was very short and very fast.  I barely had time to write down some of the names of sampled locations as DeYoung flashed slide after slide at us.  Very little explanation was given beyond what I said in my review of DeYoung's talk (  The point seemed to be to illustrate that different radioisotopic methods [always] gave different dates.  [The unstated implication that I heard was that radioisotopic methods were unreliable and that geologists would simply pick the date they liked.]  Each slide was labeled _Radioisotope "Ages"_, had the name of the site, the name of the rock, a picture of the site, and three or four radioisotopic dates.  During this time I did grab my digital camera and snapped a couple of fuzzy photos of these slides.  One of my photos shows the slide about the Bass Rapids Diabase Sill in the Grand Canyon.  It lists 4 dates:
K-Ar  841.5 million yrs.
Rb-Sr 1,060 million yrs.
Pb-Pb 1,250 million yrs.
Sm-Nd 1,379 million yrs.
DeYoung did not say much beyond noting the obvious range between 1,375 M.Y. and 841.5 M.Y. - as much as 500 million years difference.  You will note that their listed dates did not include the +/- error bars.
It is what DeYoung didn't say (either in his talk or in his book "Thousands ...  not Billions") that concerns me most.  [Note: Since I haven't read those "200 pages" you mention in the "RATE VOl II technical report", I cannot speak to the absence of critical information in that report.]  I have done some literature research on the Bass Rapids Diabase Sill in the Grand Canyon and, since you have brought the topic up, will try to condense my findings into a future post (or set of postings).  Suffice it for now to say that DeYoung fails to mention:
1) K-Ar dating does not always date the 'total age' of the rock.  It simply dates the age since the rock last cooled below a certain closing temperature. 
2) Grand Canyon researchers have previously noted the low K-Ar dates and use these data to support the idea that the area was reheated (to a temperature high enough to partially reset the K-Ar 'clock') during a recognized tectonic event (The Grand Canyon Disturbance) about 800 million years ago. An average age of 823 million years is suggested.
3) A published K-Ar study concluded that the K-Ar dates on several of these rocks show a scatter and experimental results that are "characteristic of rocks that have disturbed thermal histories leading to partially reset ages."
4) Mentioned in his book but not in this talk: Austin actually got a range of K-Ar dates from 686 +/-15 to 1053 +/-24 on various samples from this area.  Note the scatter and how close the oldest date is to the Rb-Sr date.
5) Published studies in the 1970's & 80's obtained Rb-Sr dates of 1,070 +/-70 million years for sills & flows in this area.
6) Published studies showed that zircons in nearby rocks from the same stratigraphic interval gave slightly older U-Pb dates (the Pb-Pb method is a variation on the U-Pb method) than the Rb-Sr dates.
7) Researchers had proposed that the flows & sills that include the Bass Rapid Diabase Sill has a *minimum* date of 1,070 million years but that it could be somewhat older based on U-Pb results.
8) Any one of the 3 older dates fit well within the stratigraphic record for these rocks.
My conclusion from the older literature is that if you were to collect samples from the Bass Rapids Diabase Sill, you can expect rubidium-strontium dates around 1,070 million years; a good possibility that lead-lead dates will be somewhat older; and a scatter of potassium-argon dates due to a resetting event averaging somewhere around 823 million year ago.
So Steve Austin goes to the Bass Rapids sill, collects several samples, spends thousands of dollars of charitable donations, and gets the same exact results that we would expect from literature published 25 years ago.  Looks like a case of picking out only the results that you want.  Does this sound ethical to you?
(Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are my own and are not to be attributed to my employer ... or anyone else.)

 Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
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