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Questioning C-14 Dating 165

Malicose writes: "According to this article on PhysicsWeb, the reliability of carbon dating could be (even more) questionable (than previously thought). The reported study, which revolves around 11,000 to 45,000 year-old Bahaman stalagmites, could impact 'estimates of how quickly the Earth can re-absorb the excess carbon dioxide generated by fossil fuels.' Tests on these calcium carbonate samples revealed carbon-14 levels double their modern level during that time and extends the records of atmospheric C-14 levels some 30,000 years. Project leader and physicist Warren Beck of the University of Arizona believes 'we should take this as a warning that climate change may affect the carbon cycle in previously unexpected way.'"
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Questioning C-14 Dating

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, it is, isn't it? Read the Bible, it says so right there.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree. If people want to belive in fairies, Santa Claus, the X-files, gods, whatever then those are all prefectly valid options.

    For example, some people might think it unlikely that computers were magicked into existence by the good fairies because they claim to "know" that they're made in factories but it's just a matter of faith. The naughty fairies are magicking people's minds to think that they're builidng computers, seeing other people build them, whatever. But try telling them that!

    Remember just because your beliefs are utterly ludicrous to any thinking person doesn't mean they're not just as valid as ones based on reality.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Note to young-earthers:
    Yes, C-14 dating may be unreliable after a certain number of years. However, radiological dating is not confined to such short-lived isotopes.

    Note to old-earthers:
    No, you don't have to worry. The earth is still 4.5 billion years old, as can be seen by our lack of Neptunium, for example.

    Note to non-creationists:
    Please refrain from just saying "creationist" when you really mean "young-earth creationist." (unless of course, you are a troll)

    Thank you. You may now resume your calm and thoughtful discussions.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nonsense. We have multiple independent dating mathods that all agree with each other. We have methods that work over different time ranges, also cross-corroborated where there are overlaps, so we know which ones are valid over what ranges. Yes, they could be wrong, but they'd all have to be wrong in exactly the same way in order to agree with each other, despite using different methods, and that's incredibly implausible.

    In short, dating methods are nowhere near as questionable as you think. See "The Age of the Earth: How do we know it?" [], "Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale" [], "Isochron Dating Methods" [], "Dating with Icecores" [] and so on.

  • Is it just me, or did they tack on a vague unexplained wanring about "climate change" just to get government grant money? The rest of the article describes an unexplained jump in C-14 levels (whether the level of all carbon or the ratio of C-14 rose is not stated explicitly) between 10k and 45k years ago, along with the implications for radiological dating. But nowhere is it described what, if anything, this tells us about the climate at that time (hint: it was DAMN cold) or what affect climate has on C-14 levels. One possible explanation could be that the oceans absorbed less carbon in total because they were much colder than today. But that would not really explain why C-12 would have been absorbed preferentially, or why there was an excess of C-14 to begin with. While there might be a lot of interesting things to consider about this mystery, the vague warning about "climate change" is junk science at its worst. The basic translation of the article is: "There was a lot of C-14 around a long time ago and we don't know why. Stop driving your car." When are scientists going to start doing science again?
  • There is absolutely no way the Earth is less than 450 million years old or more than 45 billion years old

    Just like there's absolutely no way that light can travel through a vacuum or that planets besides the six known ones exist or that the galaxy Earth is part of is not the only one? Scientific "facts" are subject to change; the larger the scope of the "fact," the larger and more frequent changes will be. Basing a statement of absolute fact such as yours on a large number of current assumptions is foolish. While it appears that the lower bounds on Earth's age can be safely fixed above 450M years using several apparently reliable methods, the upper bound is much more difficult.

    the universe isn't even nearly that old!

    The age of the universe has not even been estimated with any accuracy. Current estimates range from 7-9B years to double that, and goings-on near to the time when the universe came into existence (by whatever method) are almost completely unknown; many apparently viable hypotheses exist but none explains fully the observations we make today. The only statement which can be made reliably is that the universe is not less old than Earth, although it's even conceivable that this statement is false as well depending on your definition of Universe.

  • Religions aren't as stable as you claim. Just look at the past five hundred years or so of Christian history. But I guess that's one of the differences between a religion and science: The best you're going to get from a scientist is the claim that a particular model fits all existing evidence. There are no secrets. There are no revelations. If new evidence invalidates the model, the model is either revised or discarded. I'd be lying to you if I told you that there wasn't dogmatic belief in the scientific world, but the idea is to keep it to a minimum, and that keeps everyone intellectually honest (at least).

    For sure, science doesn't have all the answers. But at least they tell you that up front.

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • I mean that in the strictest sense of the term. I.e. The current estimates may be off by an order of magnitude in either direction.

    Carbon dating has long been known to be unreliable. The simple problem is that while it can determine how much C-14 is left in an object and we have some idea as to how rapidly this stuff depletes, we still don't know how much C-14 was there to begin with.

    My favorite example was the carbon dating of a body part from a living animal (may have been the gum of a sea lion but I read this 15 years ago so forgive my forgetfulness). This thing was measured at 30,000 years old or something equally ridicules.

    It's just pure arogance for people to run around attaching an age when they know any tag is little better than a guess, and I speak of both the Christians and the sientists. Niether actualy has real facts despite what they claim.

    I.e. The Bible doesn't actually attach an age to the earth either. It dose suggest that Adam was created 6,000 years ago however most people don't notice that man was created twice in the bible.

    "On the 6th day, God made man. Male and female created he them".

    "God took the dust of the earth and formed a man then breathed in him the breath of life".

    If you assume that those really were 2 separate creations then suddenly things like Cane running away from home ( after killing his brother) and getting married to some woman in some other land make perfect sense.

    However. Like I said, people are arrogant enough to think they know how old the earth is. Never mind that they don't even know how old Diana Ross is. (and she might be younger than the earth:)
  • Yep. At last someone explains how you manage to get ridiculus results. :)

    How do you verify the other dateing methods?

    How do they actualy work?
  • Thanks for the links.
    I'll be reading for days.

    In case you are wondering, I am one of those rare fools who thinks Evolution and Creation are not incompatible. Everything below is My Opinion.

    God created the earth and all that dwell therin. However Evolution was one of the tools he used.

    Some creatures didn't actualy evolve. The Duck Billed Platipus forinstance was likely created as a devine practical joke to confound sientists who were claiming they could clasify all living things. (It was descoverd mear decades ago)

  • In case you are wondering, I am one of those rare fools who thinks
    Evolution and Creation are not incompatible.

    Most people in the U.S. believe that, so it's not rare.

    Realy? I have never been there so I wouldn't know. Those yanks
    who yack on the media seam prety polerised on this topic.

    The Duck Billed Platipus forinstance was likely created as a devine
    practical joke to confound sientists who were claiming they could
    clasify all living things.

    It has older ancestry, just like every extant species.

    Yeah. still debateble as to what came from what. Serch Napster
    for "The monkey speaks his mind".

    (It was descoverd mear decades ago)

    It was discovered 204 years ago.

    Realy? I always thoght it was found in the 1870s.
  • Actually, according to the article, the problem is C14 was more common in the past than it is now. If that is the case, then we've been underestimating the date of certain samples, based on the fact that they contained more C14 than they would have if the level of C14 in the atmosphere is constant.

    Thus, this is actually further evidence against a "Young Earth" theory. If these results are true, we've been systematically underestimating the age of things dated using the C14 method...


  • Actually, there is in fact no way to estimate the age of the universe. We can estimate how long it's been since the Big Bang, since it was a rather large event that left a lot of clues behind, but no way to estimate the age of the universe without making the (completely unsupported) assumption that the Big Bang was the begining of the universe rather than simply the most recent large scale event in it.


  • Wrong direction. If C14 was more common in the past (as the evidence in this article indicates), we've been underestimating ages. Your wife may be eligible for Social Security... :)


  • True until now, but it should be pointed out that this new information gives us the history of C14 in the atmosphere back another 30 kyrs beyond what we had before, which should allow us to extend the range we can (more or less) accurately carbon-date things. Not that we should give up further methods of verification, but this date will allow us to carbon-date more accurately and further back than we previously could...


  • Err, scientists are never definately sure about the truth of anything. You're confusing them with idiots. Scientists never tell you anything other than what the evidence best supports, which naturally changes when further evidence comes along. In other words, when they find evidence they've been wrong, they admit it and correct themselves.

    One of the nice features of humans is that they're capable of learning. Anyone who still believes at age 20 the same things they believed at age 2 is probably mentally retarded. Likewise, any system of belief that still teaches the same "truths" today as it did 2000 years ago is likewise probably retarded...


  • Actually, the earliest Greek astronomers were pretty evenly divided in their beliefs about geocentric vs. heliocentric cosmology. They eventually came down on the side of geocentric based on the evidence, not intuition.

    You see, if the earth moved around the sun rather than the other way around, we would be closer to certain constellations at certain times of the year, and furthest from them 6 months later. (Which is indeed the case.)

    Now, there are wonderful things like parallax and such that let you determine if this is indeed the case. When one is closer to the constellation, it should cover a larger angle of the sky, i.e. it should appear bigger, with it's stars further separated! And 6 months later, it should be smaller. This is all, of course, assuming the earth moves around the sun. If the reverse was true, constellations would remain constant in size.

    Having noted this, the greeks looked at the constellations and noted they did not appear to change in size at all. Thus, the evidence clearly supported the geocentric view over the heliocentric view.

    Now, one of the last greeks to continue to cling to the heliocentric model in spite of the evidence pointed out that, if the stars were really really really far away, it could be that the change is parallax would be too small to see. But others (correctly) pointed out that this was a post hoc explanation to try to save the theory, and really had no evidence to support it. Thus, heliocentric cosmology fell to the wayside until new evidence came along, much much later...


  • Hmm. That sounds like my microwave! I'll have to try that. Unfortunately, I have no idea which god is the god of microwaves. Hestia, perhaps?


  • Men did'nt evolve from "monkeys". However, monkeys and men evolve from the same specie.

    Now, as for christians, muslims and believers of all types ... I find it hard to believe that they've evolved at all. So many of them seem to be stuck in a perpetual middle or stone age.


  • How do I get government money to go study rocks in the Bahamas?
  • Don't know about other religious etiologies, but at least from the biblical standpoint, the thought is that the universe was created in a mature state. In other words, people, animals, plants, geology, the stars and planets were all created in a full state of maturity. And when you think about it, it wouldn't have made sense for it to be any other way. I mean, if you have enough power to create the universe in a mere instant, why would you wait hundreds, thousands, or millions of years for everything to grow into a useful state?
  • yeah that one is great. check out this site [] too.

  • Just ask Jack Chick [], everyone knows the world is only 6000 years old so any carbon dating that says it's older is obviously wrong.

  • Ah, yes, it all becomes clear now. At least four orders of magnitude in error is ``100% reliable''.

    So... I've got a real nice bridge here, hardly used, previous owner (a little old lady) only ever drove over it on Sundays(*); it's got a good, steady revenue stream from the tollgates; no liability for suicides; magnificent outlook; as pictured on millions of postcards; easy terms available. Interested?

    No wonder this coward is anonymous!

    (*) on her way to the races
  • I wish CmdrTaco and co. would write some kind of script to figure out how much time the average /. reader takes between reading the story and submitting a comment. I would wager it's pretty low, given the responses to this story.

    This is merely one study that brings to light a possible complication to assumptions made about c-14 uptake by organisms. That's it. It doesn't invalidate c-14 dating at all.

    And aside from that, I simply can't understand why people argue religion vs. science. If you believe that God created everything, then who do you think made particles act the way they do? To make things interact in the way we observe them? God obviously. Then every theory we come up with is based on things God created. So why argue that they are somehow false? Our *interpretation* may be off (or wrong) due to previously undiscovered factors (as in this case), but the fundamentals (radioisotope decay) are correct. So if you believe in God, you must believe in that enormous mish-mash of facts and theories called "science".

    i.e. It's all good.

  • Here's a fascinating lesson in scientific history: examine the arguments of the early apologists and popularizers of evolutionary theory. Now apply this same argument.

    A Kuhnian scientific revolution this was not; ethical conclusions and implications were the main issue, not the breakdown of prior paradigms.

    For that matter, Kuhn would probably be a good read for you - if you think science actually accepts the best theory to fit the facts in all but the most extraordinary situations, you could use a good shot of historic realism :-)

  • I think a distinction needs to be made between scientific truth and objective truth; scientific truth is that which is discerned and confirmed by way fo the scientific method, while objective truth is that which has veracity independent of what methodology may detect or expose it.

    What we must be wary of is the assumption that scientific and objective truth are the same thing, that is, the assumption that scientific truth is exhaustive of objective truth; I always find it curious that there are "scientists" who pride themselves on making "as few assumptions as possible", and yet they base the entirety of their knowledge system upon this rather glaring leap of faith.

    Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with this assumption - it's a paradigm, and it produces a moderately coherent body of knowledge. But make no mistake, it is an unverifiable, unfalsifiable assumption.

  • This is the isotope carbon-14, not a 14 carbon hydrocarbon. Nice try.
  • To the contrary the scientific method is so
    named because it is a method of establishing
    facts through reproducible experimentation.
    Religion and science only intersect when
    religion tries to declare facts contrary
    to observable evidence (by rejecting helio-
    centrism, by holding to young-earth theories,
    etc.) in which case it has entered science's
    range of exploration and will be shot down.

    Solipsism is a fool's paradise -- you must
    accede that a bridge built by belief and
    not by knowledge of physics & metellurgy
    will not stay standing if it is built
    contrary to the observed laws of physics.

    You are attempting to transform science into
    religious faith. This displays sad ignorance of
    both. Your attempt to bring in evolution is
    a non sequitir. But since you brought it up
    I will point out that evolution is not a
    matter of faith but of evidence. Scientists
    accept the evidence for evolution as it is
    the only conclusion which the evidence
    logically draws one to.

  • Sigh. I will perservere in hopes of being heard.

    You are trolling because you are making judgements
    about science (denouncing Darwin) without
    providing any rational supports for your
    statements. The evolution of bats and dolphins
    is well documented. I fail to see what is
    so unusual about similar adaptation under similar
    conditions, which is what the record shows in
    both cases. In any case the bat is very different
    from birds and the dolphin is very disimilar
    from a fish. For one thing, it has lungs, for
    another its limbs show clear evidence of land-
    dwelling ancestors.

    It seems to me that the crux here is that you WANT
    darwin to be wrong. I apologize on behalf of the
    universe for not being how you wish it to be.

    Science is not a matter of belief, which is to say
    faith. Evolution is not a matter of belief. I
    do NOT "believe" that the Earth is 6 billion years
    old or that evolution occured to bring
    about modern species. I ACCEPT that these are the
    theories supported by the preponderence of
    verifiable reproducible research, discovery and

    This is a different process from religous or
    secular "faith". Science is different because
    it is constantly admitting it is wrong,
    working to disprove itself, etc. If evidence
    arose that gravity only worked on tuesdays,
    that mauve had more ram, etc, we would try
    to understand these new facts and revise the
    theories by which we understand the physical

  • by moorewr ( 12466 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:33AM (#226416) Homepage
    I am always offended to see sensationalist
    headlines which take a science article
    (which in this case is merely a refinement
    of our knowledge about C-14 dating) and use
    it as an excuse to act like the basis of
    modern science is crumbling.

    With science and rationalism under attack by
    the powers of darkness in this country you
    needs demonstrate better judgement! Too many
    ignorant people use the lay press in their
    campaign to keep the masses blind about
    science, the scientific process, and attack
    with non sequiters, misinformation and special
    pleadings the real and firm bases for our
    understanding of physics, geology and biology.

    This article does NOT undermine the C-14 dating
    process. A more apt title would have been
    "Scientists refine accuracy of C-14 dating"
    which is what they have in fact done.

  • No problem. All the c14 ages are need to be adjusted for fluctuations in c14, for source (atmospheric or marine) and in the case of coral, perhaps preferred incorporation of c14 over c13.

    Basically, this will improve the calibration of c14 'ages' beyond the 9000 year curves that are available from the bristlecone pine records. This is a really really good thing.

    Calibrated c14 dates take into account more that A c14 age determination.
    The age determination is just how old is this assuming a certain starting ratio of c14/c13 and a decay rate. Nothing more.
    The calibrated dates take into consideration the material, and the know fluccuations of c14. In some portions of the curve, a calibrated aged can span several centruies, even if the raw age only has an error or 20 or 30 years.
  • "Religion encourage blind faith, which is lulls the mind and stops the critical thinking process."

    As a Christian, I take exception to this idea. We have such short memories.
    We must have forgotten that many major breakthroughs in science were discovered by Christians.

    Think of Galileo, Pascal, Kepler, and many many more who used scientific principles and thought to bring glory to the God they worship.

    Science has as its basis the concept of reasonable thought - an ordered universe. This is entirely consistent with a Christian worldview.

    BTW - If we're here as a result of random processes, how can you say that your thoughts are ordered?


    PS - God loves you and longs for relationship with you. If you want to know more about this, please contact me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com
  • "Natural selection is not random"
    Umm. Did I assert that it is? The subject reads "Creationists" not "people opposing natural selection." I don't dismiss natural selection. It's an observable, repeatable process. Macro-evolution, on the other hand.....

    "How do you know?"
    For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life.
    John 3:16

    You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
    Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    Romans 5:6,7,8

    He does love you. He has your number, and His messengers. Consider this a ringing telephone, an email hitting your inbox, or a doorbell resounding.

    I'm not God, just one of His millions of messengers - people following the commandment to go throough all of the world proclaiming Him. Slashdot just happens to be on my "delivery route."

    • Where is the evidence of nature becoming more and more complex?

    If you accept that the laws of physics as we currently estimate them to be even remotely correct, would you like to take a look at very simple computer programs which produce complexity from seemingly nowhere? I think it's called evolutionary computing, and I've yet to hear a sensible argument from creationists against it. No, "it's computers not real life" is not really that good, I think, as the parallels are evident.


    • From personal experience, I know there is a lot more to existence than materialistic science or traditional religions think.

    And that would be?...

  • Sediment on the moons surface from space dust acum's at a known rate. If the universe was all these billions of years old then the estimates were that we should have landed in FIFTY FOUR FEET of the stuff when Apollo 11 touched down.

    From the FAQ []

    There is a recent creationist technical paper on this topic which admits that the depth of dust on the moon is concordant with the mainstream age and history of the solar system (Snelling and Rush 1993). Their abstract concludes with:

    "It thus appears that the amount of meteoritic dust and meteorite debris in the lunar regolith and surface dust layer, even taking into account the postulated early intense bombardment, does not contradict the evolutionists' multi-billion year timescale (while not proving it). Unfortunately, attempted counter-responses by creationists have so far failed because of spurious arguments or faulty calculations. Thus, until new evidence is forthcoming, creationists should not continue to use the dust on the moon as evidence against an old age for the moon and the solar system."

    Even though the creationists themselves have refuted this argument, (and refutations from the mainstream community have been around for at least a decade longer than that), the "moon dust" argument continues to be propagated in their "popular" literature, and continues to appear in on a regular basis:

    Poliglut []

  • I'm a creationist myself, but you cannot immediately disqualify the facts because they don't coincide with your personal belief system. I personally believe that dinosaurs really did roam the earth. The fact that modern man has lived on the earth for roughly 6000 years has little bearing on the age of the earth. Whose to say that god didn't create the earth 500 million years ago, start some dinosaur life to fetilize/flourish and then kill them off with a meteor. Wait for everything to warm up, create mankind. You can believe both things at once. From my viewpoint, the bible is accurate. Any inaccuracies are probably due to our own lack of understanding about the laws of nature or the dynamics of the universe.

    I think our sample of time is far too small for the magnitude of time we're trying to measure.

  • > Ok Creationists, you can all sit down right now.

    In related news, the Institute for Creation Research has announced that recent advances in theology require a correction to the previously established age of the earth. "We now realise that the earth is only 5342 years old, rather than 6005 as calculated by the traditional method," said ICR spokesman Lyle Lott.

  • > There are probably a lot of Jack Chick satire sites

    Actually, Jack Chick makes its own best satire. I think the phrase "over the top" must have been coined so there would be a way to describe JC's work.

  • > unless of course, you are a troll

    Whew! For a moment I thought I was going to have trouble finding a loophole.

  • > Dirac: "So what would it look like if it were the other way around?"


    > I just found out that Dirac was born in the house next door to me a few months ago.

    Funny; I thought he was much older.

  • > "Over the centuries, researchers have found bones and artifacts proving that humans like us have existed for millions of years."

    Mmmm. I wonder what would happen if you submitted a paper on, say, genetics, to a scientific journal, and in it cited another paper several centuries old in order to make a controversial point. I fear the new must supercede the old in science.

    > "Prejudices based on current scientific theory act as a "knowledge filter," giving us a picture of prehistory that is largely incorrect."

    What peer review actually does is endow science with a sort of 'inertia' that keeps it from turning aside at every claim every loonie makes. Sure, that raises the bar and makes people who discover something truly new have to work a bit harder to get their claims accepted, but the benefits of the system outweigh the disadvantages by many orders of magnitude.


    From one of the reviews posted on that page:
    A book that proclaims man has existed in anatomically modern form for hundreds of millions of years? could this be a creationist tract? Unfortunately it is. The authors misunderstand the concept of a theory, bring religion into science (science ends up being based on a particular religious viewpoint, thus rendering it invalid), misrepresent scientists' theories and statements, and ignores work which contradict their religious ideas.
    This is nice, too:
    From the Publisher

    I perceive in Forbidden Archeology a work of thoroughgoing scholarship and intellectual adventure. -Dr. Pierce Flynn
    And Flynn is a prominent paleontologist? Archaeologist? Anthropologist? No, sociologist [].

    Also revealing:
    Customers who bought this book also bought:
    • Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings : Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age by Charles H. Hapgood
    • Technology of the Gods : The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients by David Hatcher Childress
    • When the Sky Fell : In Search of Atlantis by Rand Flem-Ath, Rose Flem-Ath
    > If you want to learn more about cristianity:
    Another "pebble" is the authors keen ability to state as true facts innumerable elements that have NOT been proven, simply by stating that, by the absence of any proof to the contrary, a fact is true.
    'nuff said. Thank you for thinking critically.

  • > Modern genetics

    Modern genetics supports evolution.

    > lack of fossil evidence supporting evolution

    There is an amazing amount of fossil evidence for evolution.

    > cosmology

    Irrelevant to the verity of evolution, unless you want to make ludicrous claims about the age of the universe.

    > statistical look into the chance of life forming from a Big Bang

    The big bang part is also irrelevant cosmology, and you didn't even bother to give us some made-up statistics, let alone some valid ones.

    > etc, etc, etc.

    The word "etc" does not bear much weight in science. You either have the evidence or you don't.

    You don't.

    If that your single most airtight disproof of evolution, evolution can coast now.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @11:02AM (#226430)
    > Yes, as always, the things scientists are so definately sure about (and use to prove other theories) turn out to be wrong. Just wait till we find out that man lived before and during dinosaurs, and that the most renound prehistoric fossils and cave paintings are just a few hundred years old.

    Sounds typical indeed. Perhaps you were not aware that:

    a) it is extremely rare that scientists, other than mathematicians, ever "prove" anything, or claim to do so, and

    b) science is self-correcting by nature.

    ps - A google on "scientific method" turns up 147,000 hits. Maybe you'll find one or two of them useful.

    Feeding the Slashdot trolls since 1999 (or thereabouts).

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @02:50AM (#226431)
    > It's worth noting that intuition tells us that the sun goes around the Earth.

    Of course our intuition tells us that. Did you expect it to lead us astray or something?

  • Even if there were no Creationist postings on the topic at the time, it was inevitable that there would be eventually. One of the common misconceptions Creationists have, after all, is that so many of them don't know the difference between radioisotope dating and radiocarbon dating.

  • Why shouldn't there be flying, swimming, or egg-laying mammals? Do birds have the patent on fish, or fish the patent on swimming? Did birds license the patent on egg-laying from reptiles or the other way around?

    For the record, we don't have very definite evidence on the matter of bat evolution - bats are small and fragile and don't fossilize well. But we have some excellent fossil evidence on the land-based ancestry of cetaceans - and if mammals evolved from reptiles, it's not at all surprising that there may be egg-laying mammals (since the evolution of live birth and of mammary glands are not required to take place on the same timetable).


  • I notice you picked on the one thing I didn't claim to be able to do.

  • If you think that C-14 has anything to do with evolutionist or creationist theories, your private school isn't nearly as good as you think it was. Evolution deals on far larger time scales than C-14 can reach, usually using isotopes of minerals, such as uranium, potassium, etc.

  • As you said, C14 is of interest for dating organic matter. That's all it can be used for, so this is relevant to that.

    Notice, however, that they specifically suspect that a supernova shock wave could have caused what they measured. I assume that their literature search revealed the 35 kyr-old Be-10 anomalies, which probably were caused by a supernova shockwave. Indeed, footnote 4 (page 17 of PostScript paper) of "Geological Isotope Anomalies as Signatures of Nearby Supernovae []" refers to Raisbeck finding a rise in the C14/C12 ratio during the period of this stalagmite study.

  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @03:25AM (#226437) Homepage
    You're both kind of missing the point (but don't feel bad, religions long claimed knowledge of first origins (some still do) and one branch of science - Cosmology - puzzles over the mystery of creation with the jury still out (and likely to remain so forever) so questions remain.

    A good view doesn't pit science and religion against each other - it's not an either/or issue (Kansas Board of Education notwithstanding). Look, science is a _method_ not a set of beliefs. Religion is a socio-political construct - and I don't care _which_ religion one might choose, they're all the same in this very fundamental way. BTW - the separation of Church and State is a Very Good Thing in the US.

    Religion is all about telling the mass population what to believe along the way to influencing how they _behave_. Everyone has to believe _something_, even if it's that they don't know what they believe (but that's a precarious state, not at all recommended for folks who get up and go to work every day, care for their families, etc.). But religion is mostly ethics in drag - fairie tales with moral points, plus some do's and don'ts (the 10 Commandments in Christianity, other rules in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.). Some of the rules are practical (not eating pork avoids trichinosis), pragmatic (not seducing one's neighbor's wife promotes civil peace, not to mention personal longevity), or simply self-reinforcing ("Thou shalt have no other God before me, sayeth the Lord." - well of course, what else would you expect the priests to say?). But mostly, religion is about ethics - how to act: care for your parents, love your spouse, raise the kids, help neighbors, deal fairly in business - all the stuff that _should_ be automatic for any rational person but that people somehow need reminding about.

    Religion is also a social mileau in communities - hitch-hike into Salt Lake City and go to a Mormon church, let them know that you need work, you'll find a job - do the same without going to church, you'll be on welfare before you find a job at McDonalds. One might surmise that similar conditions govern life in Tel Aviv and Tehran (except those countries don't have US model immigration and unemployment safety-nets, so one might actually starve there first, unless luckily deported). But the point is religion is a venue for positive social interaction. Go to any place in the Third World without money or highly marketable skills (drug-dealing, gun-running, pimping), and avoid the local churches, and you'll soon wish you'd robbed a bank in the US and gone to a nice clean, warm, and dry prison instead.

    Enough said - I've likely offended some Mormans, Israilies, Iranians, and perhaps others, all in one post - so I'll quit while I'm ahead.
  • by mefus ( 34481 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @01:04AM (#226438) Journal
    Uh, er...

    They weren't dating organic stuff directly (which is what you want to do with C14-dating, since it's produced continuously in the atmosphere (more or less constitutively, but that's what's being drawn into question here)) but had found some stalagtites thought to've formed during a certain period (through use of other means than C14-dating, presumably) that had more C14 than is expected to be found in mineral.

    What they are claiming is some climatic event may have caused a bumper crop of organic slough, or something like that.

    They weren't dating the stalagtites by C14, strictly speaking.

    And you /can't/ use the isochron method to date once living material, which is what C14 is good for.

    So one wonders what you are talking about.

    um, er... eh -- *click*
  • The rest of the article describes an unexplained jump in C-14 levels (whether the level of all carbon or the ratio of C-14 rose is not stated explicitly) between 10k and 45k years ago, along with the implications for radiological dating.

    For radiological dating the ratio is used, otherwise you'd have no way to compensate for the amount of carbon in the original sample.

    One possible explanation could be that the oceans absorbed less carbon in total because they were much colder than today. But that would not really explain why C-12 would have been absorbed preferentially, or why there was an excess of C-14 to begin with.

    This would skew the dating even more, since it relys on chemical processes being unable to distinguish isotopes. You'd need either bacteria which could do isotopic separation of methane or more likely increased cosmic ray bombarment of Earth.
  • False dichotomy.

    You assume that either your God or no god exists. Personally, I believe in ZZQRE, a God who hates all evangelicals and consigns them to listen to Amy Grant music for all eternity while showering scientists and others who used their ZZQRE-given minds with wonders.

    Evidence for ZZQRE? About the same as for the Christian God.

    Sure, I'm being satiric, but there are plenty of other belief systems out there besides yours.


  • My favorite example was the carbon dating of a body part from a living animal (may have been the gum of a sea lion but I read this 15 years ago so forgive my forgetfulness). This thing was measured at 30,000 years old or something equally ridicules.

    Well, that would be the answer, then. Think of a pinniped that eats fish fattened on algae blooming from CO2 (and other nutrients) out of a deep water upwelling, like as the once fabulously fertile Grand Banks. Most of the C-14 in its food would already be several thousand years old. Not suprising that it would date older than expected.

    You can get even more extreme results if you try to date shellfish growing around underwater oil seeps. The petroleum has dern near zero C-14 in it.

    That's why there are well established rules on what can be successfully carbon dated.

    IOW: ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

  • Modern genetics supports evolution.

    If anything, it shows how unlikely evolution is. Through our reasarch we have: a) Shown that there is extra DNA that is unused (which is likely the source of changes in animals adapting to their situation, and no animal with or without scientist's help has ever crossed the species barrier, which would have happened a huge number of time in very few years for evolution to occur) ...

    Two points: Why do you think that finding inactivated genes in DNA is evidence against evolution? What about the cave creatures (newts, crickets, etc.) that have deactivated genes for producing eyes? Surely, not producing unneeded organs is an advantageous evolutionary step in the resource-starved enviornment of a cave.

    Secondly, check out the following:
    Observed Instances of Speciation [] for dozens of examples of living things that "crossed the species barrier" without human help and
    29 Evidences for Macroevolution [] (I hate the word "macroevolution". It is too often abused by people who don't know any better -- or worse, by those who should.)

    ... b) Shown how difficult it is to make changes to DNA ...

    Not really. Our DNA seems to contain all kinds of junk, probably inserted by retroviruses, which are sloppy replicators. Again, a point for evolution or other non-optimal processes in the genome. Definitely a point against creationism -- even a first year bio engr. student could produce a cleaner genome, let alone a deity.

    ... c) Shown that no natural mutation has ever been benefitial, and how unlikely an even slightly positive change is.

    Now you're not even trying, just parroting things out of ICR tracts. ==Sigh==

    There are a number of antibiotics that never existed until some chemist synthesized them. (Which ones? Don't remember; references not at hand.) You can't say that bacteria had enzymes to degrade them sitting around in "junk DNA" cold storage because they were totally new. Said antibiotics are remarkably effective for a couple years, or even decades. Eventually, some strains of strep evolve the ability to break down those antibiotics.

    Bingo! Instant competitive advantage that is massively useful to the bacterium. It's more than just a "slight" positive change, it's a major breakthrough that gives that strain and all its decendents a big boost over competing strains of strep.

    Is this too hard to imagine? But, you don't have to imagine it. Just read the reports on the antibiotic resistant strains of strep found around hospitals and shudder....

    There is an amazing amount of fossil evidence for evolution.

    Never has there been any remote evidence linking fossils with modern species. Therefore, it's quite possible those ape-looking creatures were in fact ae-looking create who probably lived along side Apes and Humans.

    Really? I suppose the entire chain of fossils linking Hyracotherium (AKA Eohippus) to modern horses is all a product of my diseased imagination. Likewise, the fossil series for whales and other cetacians, lagomorphs (rabbits, etc.), condylarths (hoofed animals in general), etc.

    Check out Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ [] or the less broad but more detailed Horse Evolution [].

  • How do you verify the other dateing methods?

    How do they actualy work?

    Well enough in practice. There's too much to talk about here. See Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale [] for an overview of general dating, and Isochron Dating Methods [] on using multiple isotopes to cross-check each other. There are some class notes: Module 2 [] and Module 4 [], if you're interested in the grisly details.

    It's worth noting that isotope dating techniques had to prove themselves in the 1910's through '50s. They weren't just proclaimed as The Way by the Secret Evilutionist Cabal, as some have implied. 8^)

  • The age determination is just how old is this assuming a certain starting ratio of c14/c13 and a decay rate. Nothing more.
    Accually it takes the beta-degeneration of c14 -> N14 + e- + neutrino + energy
    and a half life time of 5715 years.

  • Those people are Manicheans - and thus, heretics against their own faith. Read "A Case Of Conscience" for an interesting take on this. The science is a wee bit out of date, but it' still fun.
  • And we know the Bible is right because God wrote it, and we know God wrote it because that's what the Bible says... oh wait ;)
  • Given enough religious brainwashing, anything is possible. Heck, if you can manage people to believe that there's a guy high above with a white beard that created everything, you can lead those people to believe pretty much anything else (that pork is not good, that working on sunday is evil, etc...)
  • Well given enough time, there's certainly a mathematical transformation that would change The Bible into Shakespear's "Romeo and Juliet", up to the comma.

    So one can always read a text in such a way as often to find the number 7 (or 9, 12 or even 42 :). Random chance ? Hell no ! The guys who found this first decided to look for the number 7, then arranged their method of searching/computing so that they would find lots of 7 in The Bible. I'm also sure the Bible is full of 7 letters long words. And 8 letters long word too. That's not a reason to claim that 7 (or 8 or 5) is "hiding" in this book either.

    is the number 7, which is mentioned over and over again in various relationships to God the number that this kind of numerology works with?

    Hugh... 10 commandments anyone ? Anyway if there is an intent in putting "hiding" the number 7 in the Bible (which is doubtfull, as the only intent I'm sure is that people are looking for the number 7 and ready to use whatever skewed method of analysis to find it), it just shows the writers put the number 7 in there. Hey - I could write a text with the number 7 everywhere, it doesn't make me God or divine. It doesn't proove anything at all.
  • Actually it wouldn't be hard to write a book with only 7 letters long words only. As for as book without the letter 'e', Georges Perec (French author) has written a whole fiction without a single 'e', and if you know of often the 'e' is used in French you know what a feat this is.
  • Given that the plausibility of a guy that is invisible, that no one has ever seen except as described in very old books, and that is supposed to have absolute power and knowledge is about the same as the plausibility that unicorns exists, I'd say this requires a whole lotta more brainwashing that any wrong-science could ever need. You can check that the world is round (despite what most religions were saying) - you still can't check that God said this or that or that he exists either. That's the difference between brainwashing and checking the facts.
  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @12:24AM (#226451)
    Other than as a curiosity specific to the dating or organic matter and archaelogical finds, this is irrelevant. Serious dating is performed with the Isochron method. []

    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • You could always go read some of their literature for yourself and find out that they're not lunatics, they just have different points of reference. Ooops, that would require an open mind [].
  • The level of entropy in scientific study is something that a lot of people seem unaware of these days.
  • They don't post as AC's :-)
  • > expecting everyone to double check every piece of information themselves is not what you should expect.

    If a person reads the bible, and believe it, they should apply the principles contained within, e.g. "prove all things" (Thes 5:21) comes to mind.

    > The Bible should have been written better.
    I agree. It was written by men, and contains mistakes.

    > Now why don't you go and put more effort in that?
    I'm not qualified to.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @08:10AM (#226456)
    > Read the Bible, it says so right there.


    I'm tired of people that can't even be bothered to *read* the orginal Hebrew and double check the translation. Gen 1:2 uses the Hebrew word "hayah" which means "became". It is used in over 600 places in the Old Covenant.

    Next time, use proper exegisis instead of taking the words at literal value.

    Good explaination of the hebrew words: []

    Gap Theory: []
  • Keep in mind when you translate from any language into any other language you lose things. No matter how good this original "holy book" was written you will lose things in translation and even worse when you translate translations. Remember this God being is not doing the translation.

    I also feel any religious person should read their holy book or other works in their original language
    it's the word of God after all so you don't want to mess around with silly translations.

    Keep in mind I am not Christian or into any other such fairy story but I simply cannot abide people who try to take the Bible literally and thump it all the time when they've never actually even read a single word from it.
  • Post #37 is an anti-creationist post that isn't even a reply? Talk about some high level CSICOP paranoia.
  • Well perhaps if you knew ANYTHING about the scientific method, and how it is epistemologically much more superior than the "revelation" of the bible, or any other source of religious faith, and if you didn't allude to tired old creationist arguments that have been shown to be fallacious time and time again (ie moon dust), then you wouldn't be a troll. Though I would have moderated you up as funny.

    The following sentence is true.
  • It's an attack against our intuition. Something like: "If our intuition could be so wrong about that, what makes you believe something just as far out of the human experience, based solely on your intuition?"
  • I mean just because the Egyptian's Tale of Noh and his zoo boat are strikingly similar to Noah and his ark doesnt mean that the phrase "Love your neighbor as yourself" is worthless. Its a good way to live, reguardless of whether theres a heaven, whether you go there, or how much it costs to get in.

    The only problem is that the bible also teaches some brutally horrible things as well, such as: the killing of homosexuals, limiting the rights of women, intolerance to other religions (evangalism), guilting children into believing they and their bodies are evil, and a lack of reliance on medicines. (links to follow when I get back from work) Now of course all religious people don't believe such things, and most don't agree with any other things that I mentioned, and aren't even aware of what is contained in their "holy bible" that they truck around with them. But if we could try to be "good" people without the christian baggage ...

    The way I see it is that those that believe get their enjoyable experience from it, and those that don't should be protected under seperation of church and state.

    sorry, isn't your email address say that you are from kansas state university? You should know too well what happens when blind faith takes hold too strongly in the education system.

  • The "self-calibrating" isochron methods work on very long timescales and with dead matter (rocks), while radiocarbon is probably the most important dating method for young biological material.

    In any case, the fundies won't be able to rejoice much (after they read below the title), as this applies only to very old objects.

    It was a pity that the article didn't mention what OTHER method they used for dating the stalagmites...

    Possibly they found yearly "varves" (very common method), if the stalagmites grew differently at different times of year. In that case, some years might be missing if there was a long local drought some 10-45ka ago, and we well know that there were dramatic global climate changes at that time. Well, this is just one possible problem, IANAG.

    Thus, it will be interesting to read the Science article with it appears.

  • There are probably a lot of Jack Chick satire sites (I mean, how can you resist - fish, barrel,you know the saying), but my favorite was this one []. Needless to say, it generated a bit of contreversy []. But isn't lively debate what keeps the intelect from being snuffed out completely? Oh, wait, this was just tasteless humor... good enough ;-)

  • I've had people tell me that "Satan put all the apparent evidence that the world is older than 6000 years. God looks at the whole thing as a test of your faith."

    Some people (Not just creationists) will believe what they believe, no matter how much evidence there is for or against their beliefs.

    I know. Those people are not the ones I am trying to reach; they are beyond help. There may be others that are not yet as brain-washed tho, who still may be reached by logic and reason.


  • The Bible never says that the earth is 6k years old.

    I know. Yet many (not all) creationists still insists it is.

    BTW, I am quite familiar with creationism and its arguments as my parents are creationists. Sigh.

    We can work out that humans have been around that long, though.

    Well, if you arbitrarily decide that the genealogical listings and lifetimes as stated in the Bible are utterly correct (despite even internal contradictions), and at the same time totally disregard not only other genealogical listings from, say, Mesopotamia and Egypt, but also massive amounts of archaeological evidence from all around the world, then I guess you could believe humans have only existed for 6k years.

    But if you do, at least have the decency to admit it is blind faith and don't claim there is anything even remotely akin to scientific evidence supporting it.

    Many Christians believe that the Bible leaves out a really long time between the creation of the Universe and then, taking the earth from a lifeless ball of earth and water, and making it into a habitable and life-fulled planet (which God can easily do in 6 days.. since He is God). So there :)

    Yeah, I know all about that variant. While not quite as preposterous as saying the entire Earth is 6000 years old, it still conflicts with enormous amounts of evidence.

    Besides.. you guys keep claiming that we're stupid to believe in a creator.

    I personally claim no such thing. In fact, I believe in a Creator, or Creators. I am not a materialist. I just don't believe in JHWH, in the Biblical creator, or that the Bible is more truthful or accurate than any other old mythological text. I lean more or less towards a variant of Pantheism if anything.

    From personal experience, I know there is a lot more to existence than materialistic science or traditional religions think. Of course this is valid evidence only for myself and I wouldn't dream of asking anyone else to believe this just because I say so. Everyone must walk their own path.

    What about you believing that we grew into humans (and humans are really complex, study biology.. work on AI.. you'll get the idea) from.. rocks?! Sounds a lot more crazy to me.

    Why? Why should the idea that there is an innate property in nature to turn more and more complex by itself be more crazy than the idea that there is an omnipotent God, to which no natural laws apply, who never shows himself, to which everything we can't explain is referred?


  • Not being the creationist at the other end of your sword i still think i ought to point out that there's a fairly large bit of scientific evidence to show that there really was a large oceanic swelling that coincides with glacial movements and 'ice age' cycles.

    Sure there was, if you by "swelling" mean changes in sea level due to large amounts of water being bound up in ice sheets and later melting again. IIRC the worldwide sea level during the height of the last ice age was some 150 m lower than now, but the point is that those eustatic changes took a long time; thousands of years.

    However, it is possible that some flood myths came from large-scale (but still not worldwide) flooding at the end of the last ice age.

    You can thump your Geology book just as well as others can thump their bibles, but you at least ought to read it now and then.

    And I do. The difference between thumping the geology book and thumping the Bible is that the geology book is based on empirical data and logic, whereas the Bible is based on old myths. In addition geologists admit that the theories the present are only models, which may be changed or updated as new facts demand it, something that can not be said of the Bible. It's defenders seem more keen on changing facts to suit the book.


  • You know what; when I decided to write it I had already seen several replies to the effect that the Earth was only 6k years old. But I decided to put it as a reply to main, since it wasn't directly an answer to any one of them, but more of the general info category.

    And as far as PSI-COP ;-) is concerned... oh boy... :-D That is really funny, since I don't agree very much with them at all - especially not their methods but not all the "facts" either. That of course does not preclude that I have the same stance as they on some issues, such as e.g. this one.


  • Well, as it happens I have personally experienced telepathy (with my GF), but above all I have OBEs (Out-of-Body-Experiences) now and then. Have had a few hundred by now.

    No, I can't do it at will, much less prove it to others, and I am not really interested in proving it either. I know what I have done. It is enough.

    So now, let all prejudiced people call me crazy, deluded, a liar or a kook. It doesn't matter, the truth is still the same. Mind you, I am not "evangelizing" or trying to convince anyone else; I only tell this because you asked. In case anyone has a genuine interest feel free to email me about it.

    Now, some may say that I am probably just dreaming. All I can say to that is that once you experience this there can be no question whatsoever that you are not. It is a state far more profound, sometimes more clear than waking life. And it is fun!

    It really is an incredibly cool thing you know... being "out"... better than any drug high. What I could tell you... the things I have done... but most people would not likely believe it, so I won't.


  • So, if you have a very big eruption, say a magnitude 7, roughly every 10 000 years from a certain volcano, if you find ten ash layers from eruptions of that size it is not very unreasonable to think that the oldest one is ~1 million years old.

    Oops, that should be ~100 000 years of course.


  • by Dervak ( 94063 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @01:41AM (#226470)

    Ok Creationists, you can all sit down right now. This is not the proof that C-14 is wrong. The Earth is not 6000 years old. This is just a minor bug modifying the upper half of the C-14 dating scale somewhat.

    If by any chance you listen to logical arguments there are lots of very good reasons why the Earth must be a lot older than old Bishop Usher thought. Even if you dismiss all radiometric dating as somehow unreliable - not only C-14 but Potassium-Argon and the others too - there are still other methods by which we can see that the Earth must be vastly much more old than the Bible says.

    For instance, sedimentation takes time.

    One example is clay layers in the deep ocean basins. Tiny clay grains that have come from rivers slowly settle in the still waters of the ocean basins. The beds generally grow less than 0.1 mm in thickness per year, and the clay beds may be many kilometers thick - this gives an age of many tens to perhaps more than a hundred million years.

    Now, many creationists will say that most of that clay was deposited much faster during the supposed Flood. But that won't work - you see, clay will not sediment at all if it isn't very calm and it always does it very slowly. Also, the thickness of the beds increase linearly away from the mid-ocean spreading ridges, in perfect agreement with the slow (1-10 cm/year) seafloor spreading. The same principle of slow sedimentation also applies to large river deltas, which may be many km thick too.

    Erosion and weathering also takes time.

    A typical valley glacier erodes its bed and sides with roughly 1 mm/year, and the U-valleys can be many km deep. Rivers slowly eat their way down into the rock - how long does it take to wear a mountain range down? How long does it take for chemical weathering to slowly eat its way down to hundreds of m of depth in the very bedrock?

    Volcanoes ash layers are another way of dating. The exact date you get from other methods, like historical accounts, C-14, ice cores etc. - but relative dating is very easy, which ash layer is above the other? There is an approximate power-law for volcanic eruptions; the larger the longer the interval between. So, if you have a very big eruption, say a magnitude 7, roughly every 10 000 years from a certain volcano, if you find ten ash layers from eruptions of that size it is not very unreasonable to think that the oldest one is ~1 million years old.

    Now, of course eruptions can come closer in time to each other, the period isn't totally fixed, but if, say, two eruptions were close to each other in time you can tell, because then there will be no fully developed earth horizon on the lower layer. It takes thousands of years for chemical weathering, leaching and nutrient uptake by plants to form a mature earth horizon.

    All these maethods say is that the Earth must be at least a few hundred million years old, probably older. To get the 4.8 billion years number you will have to use radiometric dating, but there is something else supporting that too.

    Theoretical models of the evolution of stars say that the sun is roughly 5 billion years old, and is is reasonable to assume that the Earth formed roughly the same time.

    So, in the end the 4.8 billion year value seems quite certain. It is possible future research will find out that it really is 4.7 or 4.9, but the overall picture is clear, no matter what creationist Bible-thumpers say.


  • Parody, perhaps. But more - just a revelation that we could all be wrong, AND anything believed is done so in faith. Science has not explained creation, there is room for both camps to believe what they want and the freedom in America to express both. In the end neither camp has any facts from 6 billion years ago and other than time travel outside ones own life are we ever going to KNOW the answer.

    What is more disturbing to me is I still don't see how this is Troll material. Perhaps moon dust was disproven. big deal. The timetable still has to be screwd by flying (bats), swimming (dolphins), and duck billed mammals that lay eggs. I'm sorry Darwin WAS WRONG. So you have some new timetable that is better than the last? fine, then that is what YOU believe. but it still JUST A BELIEF, And no matter how we wish to be correct, we MAY be wrong. How many evolutionists will say that? Creationists?

    Three choices here folks.

    1: Religion

    2: Science

    3: Just don't care enough to think about this. aka.. Science. Why? Religion requires effort. It's easier to believe science because at no time are you accountable for what you believe.

    But this is prolly more Troll material. huh.

  • Notice one thing. All the fossils are all called "Bats" not half bats. They are all mammals, they all fly. Where is the middle of the chain. Evolution is always missing the middle of the chain.

    And just to be clear. In the same 6 billion years, Life developed in the mud, becake single celled creatures, became fish, crawled onth the land became reptials, became mammals, crawled the water took on all the likenesses of the other fish and became a dolphin? this screws the timetable .. all I'm saying is that we all could be wrong. Can I get agreement on that?

    I'ts early, need to go to work. Please excuse me if my argument was not as clear as it could have been.

  • So you like geographic time clocks, try this one:

    Sediment on the moons surface from space dust acum's at a known rate. If the universe was all these billions of years old then the estimates were that we should have landed in FIFTY FOUR FEET of the stuff when Apollo 11 touched down. In stead we found between and an eighth and a half inch of dust. About as much as would have acum'ed at the documented rates over a period of 8000 to 10,000 years...

    Mike Glenn

    "I'm still trying to figure out why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets."
  • Here are facts :

    (a) People who claimed science has everything worked out is wrong and should be burned on the stake for heresy.

    (b) New discoveries do not override old ones. When a new "discovery" is in conflict with "old discovery", you throw doubt into both. Which means those poor underpaid scientists have to go (happily, granted) figure out which one is right, or even both is wrong. This is called "self-correcting mechanism". The joke is "if the data does not fit the theory, then the data is wrong" is not science, but religion.

    Now, here are opinions :

    (i) The fact that science is playing catch-up is it's strength, not weakness. It's humble enough to admit that we don't know the Truth. What it does is to provide a self-correcting way to incrementally search out the answer. Religion on the other hand, claims (rightly/wrongly, up to the person to decide) to know the answer. I think the former is a lot more fun than the latter.

    (ii) I don't totally agree with the poster's point that religion is about ethics. Religion started out as an attempt as an explanation of the physical world. (There are priests before scientists.) Since that role has been taken up by science, it is now happily playing the role of meting out moral/ethics decisions, which not-so-coincindentally, science has no role to play.

    (c) Finally, I think religion can be abused which is why I do not see religion as necessary a Good Thing(tm). There are genuine people who believe. Then, there are those who play with people's minds to enrich themselves. Religion encourage blind faith, which is lulls the mind and stops the critical thinking process. That can't be a good thing, can it?

  • This sorting out by scientists frequently results in the old result being discarded.

    We wish! The ugly truth is that there are a lot more wrong papers out there than "right" ones. (Quotes as requested). Popular preception cast science is a linear progression. The reality is that for every "correct" paper, there are a zillion wrong ones.

    Actually, the church will sometimes change its position on an issue.

    The Church will not change on issues such as who is the Creator. Or salvation through grace via believing in Jesus. Or a lot of other "fundamental tenets" of Christianity. If the COBE satellite did not find the Cosmic Microwave Background to be a blackbody, then the Big Bang theory (a "fundamental" tenet of Cosmology) that we all know and love will be in serious trouble. (It did, btw, so we still love BB). (My own research is trying to mess up Einstein's gravity theory, a "fundamental" tenet of physics. While controversial, it is legitimate research since eintein's gravity is not tested at certain large scales. My point is that there is no "fundamental shrine" which is untouchable, unlike religion.)

    Look at the state of science under Stalin or Mao. Look at eugenics, or phrenology, or the scientific evidence for "race".

    There are a lot of good science done by scientists under Stalin or even Nazis. (Before you flame, von Braun is a nazi scientist who advanced rocketry.) There are two points to be made here : (a) Science cannot decide what is "moral", only people can so please do not confuse "research that is an affront to humanity" with "bad science" (b) the debate surrouding the example you brought up is exactly the "self-correcting" mechanism that I mentioned : the last word is experimental evidence which is totally impartial.

    As loathe as science fans are to admit it, scientists are people

    Exacly why there is a self-correcting mechanism built into the methods of science : because scientists are human and humans make mistakes. THe "Science fans" who claimed scientists are infallible are the same kind that claim science has solved everything (and to the stake they go.)

    And why then doesn't religion get any credit for repenting of past wrongs?

    They do. But moral "wrongs" as defined in our current view of what is "right". And in my OP, I did say that religion is meting out moral decisions. Science concern itself with nature, not morals.
  • by moath ( 151844 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @12:03AM (#226494)
    I often question why I date carbons. Especially C-14. I mean, if she were ever to miss 10 molecules, I'd be in a terrible mess, trying to explain why my date just blew half the diner up.

    Ahh, the pains of dating compounds...

  • You are still missing the inherint problem with the dating methods. We can only _prove_ that they are accurate to maybe ~100 years back. We then assume that based on how something has aged for a century or so that it will keep aging like that, therefore we have a dating method. IMHO this is bad science - the sample size is WAY TOO SMALL. It will take humanity (if we exist long enough) 1,000's of years to produce a dating method that is even halfway scientifically sound.

    Wow, looks like if you say ANYTHING against our scientific methods you get modded as a Troll here - that's a GREAT way to improve our science. Common moderators, this was an extremely valid post - please don't MOD based on your opinion (see: moderator guidlines).
  • by onco_p53 ( 231322 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @12:27AM (#226518) Homepage Journal
    The article talks about the very old dates being affected (like 50,000 yo) No scientist aware of the limitations of the method would quote dates older than 30k yo without further verification. Typically these are backed up by further methods such as thermo-luminesence, and stratification.
  • Ah. The old mis-represent the data trick. Hawaiian lava [] dated as ancient is pure urban legend by the creationists, snails (all aquatic animals [] actually) don't get the carbon in their bodies directly from the atmosphere (and so can't be carbon dated), and as for trees, I'll need details before we can debunk you on them (I'm reasonably confident since you have already had two strikes, you will round it out with a third).
  • The article states that the issue is that C-14 levels were higher than expected for various ranges of dates. This implies that if you were to carbon date things from those date ranges, they would appear younger (have more C-14 than expected) than their true age. And it scarcely casts doubt on C-14 dating. What it actually does is calibrate it better by telling you its range of validity.
  • I learned that C-14 dating was not a reliable method of dating materials past several thousand years, at best, way back in high school. That's right, I went to a private school, where we had smart teachers who cared, and up to date textbooks. It's no wonder that this makes headline news, because most of the unfortunate masses did not have the chance to get an education better than public education. (Which you must agree, our public education system is in a very sorry state of affairs these days).

    That's why I'm always rather leary of basing any of the evolutionists or creationists theories on just how old something is based on the C-14 method. Chalk this 'news-worthy' item up to a poor American educational system, because it's not news to me.

  • You do not understand.

    I've had people tell me that "Satan put all the apparent evidence that the world is older than 6000 years. God looks at the whole thing as a test of your faith."

    Some people (Not just creationists) will believe what they believe, no matter how much evidence there is for or against their beliefs.

    Stop trying.

  • by BIGJIMSLATE ( 314762 ) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @12:41AM (#226542)
    Now we'll never know how old Strom Thurmond really is...
  • What about you believing that we grew into humans (and humans are really complex, study biology.. work on AI.. you'll get the idea) from.. rocks?! Sounds a lot more crazy to me.

    This is what we call the "Argument from personal incredulity". Simply because you find it likely that a theory is incorrect does not mean that it is incorrect. You have to examine the evidence.The evidence clearly points to the early being several billion years old, and life having evolved.

    It's worth noting that intuition tells us that the sun goes around the Earth.

  • Erm... expecting everyone to double check every piece of information themselves is not what you should expect. escpecially when written in a language very few people understand. The Bible should have been written better. Now why don't you go and put more effort in that?

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.