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Thread: carbon dating accurate?

  1. #1 carbon dating accurate? 
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    Hi i just came about this website allaboutarchaeology.org. I was looking for answers regrading about the validly of carbon dating and how accurate is it.

    They mention that:

    "Carbon dating is somewhat accurate because we are able to determine what the ratio was in the unobservable past to a certain extent. By taking a carboniferous specimen of known age (that is, a specimen which we are able to date with reasonable certainty through some archaeological means), scientists are able to determine what the ratio was during a specimen's lifetime. They are then able to calibrate the carbon dating method to produce fairly accurate results. Carbon dating is thus accurate within the timeframe set by other archaeological dating techniques. Unfortunately, we aren't able to reliably date artifacts beyond several thousand years. Scientists have tried to extend confidence in the carbon dating method further back in time by calibrating the method using tree ring dating. Unfortunately, tree ring dating is itself not entirely reliable, especially the "long chronology" employed to calibrate the carbon dating method. The result is that carbon dating is accurate for only a few thousand years. Anything beyond that is questionable. This fact is born out in how carbon dating results are used by scientists in the scientific literature. Many scientists will use carbon dating test results to back up their position if the results agree with their preconceived theories. But if the carbon dating results actually conflict with their ideas, they aren't too concerned. "This attitude is clearly reflected in a regrettably common practice: when a radiocarbon date agrees with the expectations of the excavator it appears in the main text of the site report; if it is slightly discrepant it is relegated to a footnote; if it seriously conflicts it is left out altogether "


    They pointed out that carbon dating was only accurate for few thousands years. And i knew that was just an explanation supporting the bible. But is carbon dating really doubtful for it's millions of years accuracy? [/b]


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Radiocarbon dating is accurate for more than "a few thousand years" - since the half-life of Carbon 14 is approximately 5700 years, we should be able to get reasonably accurate figures for tens of thousands of years. I don't quite know what you might mean by "an explanation supporting the bible" but neither observed radiocarbon dates, nor the calibration and error bars in any way invalidate the method, or help validate Biblical narrative.

    More importantly. there are other radioactive materials available that can extend the ladder of dating to much further back. The problem, currently, with these systems, is probably more about figuring out how to find them in formerly/currently organic substances. Since carbon is an integral part of every oprganic compound, it is easy to spot/use - the other elements are not quite so co-operative. Nothing about this, however, should be taken to mean that radiocarbon dating is unreliable.

    One final proviso - at archaeological/palaentological sites where dating is required, a key consideration is whether or not the material being tested legitimately belongs to the site, from that period. This disadvantage, which gives rise to frequent controversies, is not about radiocarbon dating, which is superbly reliable, but about qualifying the material concerned. To that extent it is about the archaeological method rather than the dating technique.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    I don't quite know what you might mean by "an explanation supporting the bible"
    This explanation is taken from allaboutarchaeology.org it's a website by the christians community.

    thanks sunshinewarrio by the way!
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenobiology
    This explanation is taken from allaboutarchaeology.org it's a website by the christians community.
    That explains it. Thanks.

    shanks
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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    Creationist website. Radiocarbon dating has become more accurate of late. Early attempts were tainted by factors not accounted for that might have contaminated the sample.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    have a look at this
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  8. #7 Re: carbon dating accurate? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenobiology
    But is carbon dating really doubtful for it's millions of years accuracy? [/b]
    Millions of years? Yes its doubtful of carbon 14. The radioactivity of carbon 14 is too low to be distinguishable from background radiation after just over 10 half lives, that is, around 60,000 years.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Freshman adamd164's Avatar
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    Ignore the creationists. Carbon dating is extremely accurate within a relatively large time frame. Outside that, Potassium/Argon dating is accurate for very old specimens indeed (K-40 has a 1.26x10^9 year half life!).
    Knowledge of evolution may not be strictly useful in everyday commerce. You can live some sort of life and die without ever hearing the name of Darwin. But if, before you die, you want to understand why you lived in the first place, Darwinism is the one subject that you must study.

    ~ Richard Dawkins
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