Hiding Data

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Feb 19, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    I am just curious as to whether or not we will ever be presented with the
    evidence for discarding of radiometric ages that was made on this board in
    November of last year. This is a serious accusation aimed at modern
    science. In my experience, this is not true at all but I am willing to be
    convinced by a preponderance of data. Remember, published works don't
    count. You must supply evidence that most radiometric ages are tossed out
    before publication. I read lots of articles and the good are presented
    alongside the bad so I would like to know who these people are that are
    hiding the data. Anyone?
  2. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    The following quotes and notes are from a number of sources and should back up the point that there are quite a few dates which are discarded where radiometric dating is concerned – they never get mentioned in any publication.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>One of the most obvious problems is that several samples from the same location often give widely-divergent ages. Apollo moon samples, for example, were dated by both uranium-thorium-lead and potassium-argon methods, giving results which varied from 2 million to 28 billion years. Lava flows from volcanoes on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (which erupted after its formation) show potassium-argon dates a billion years "older" than the most ancient basement rocks at the bottom of the canyon. Lava from underwater volcanoes near Hawaii (that are known to have erupted in 1801 AD) have been "dated" by the potassium-argon method with results varying from 160 million to nearly 3 billion years. No wonder the laboratories that "date" rocks insist on knowing in advance the "evolutionary age" of the strata from which the samples were taken -- this way, they know which dates to accept as "reasonable" and which to ignore. Of one thing you may be sure: whenever "absolute" radiometric dates are in substantial disagreement with evolutionary assumptions about the age of associated fossils, the fossils always prevail. ]http://www.gennet.org/facts/metro14.html<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    A collection of radiometric data sets were reanalyzed to determine their relevance to defining previous sea level positions. Criteria for analysis included core
    location, material dated, and position with the core sequence. Unsuitable dates were removed from the data set based upon five possible parameters: reworked
    shell material, peat compaction (invalid or uncertain vertical placement), root contamination, insufficient sample or positioning data, or self-conflicting data. The
    reduced data set is shown in Figure 13.


    (in checking links, the article this was part of appears to have been pulled. Interesting… )

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Another disconcerting fact: the "correct" ages which
    appear are the result of a selection (Holmes, 1965), the
    author having only accepted the "best values" (those
    confirming Lyell's stratigraphical scale), rejecting the
    others as "anomalous."

    Dave Tyler sent me the following in a private email:

    In June 2000, Paul Garner wrote:
    "Last night I spoke at Histon Baptist Church, Cambridge on
    "Creation or evolution?" .. .. Another gentleman was a geochemist
    at the British Antarctic Survey, working in the field of
    geochronology. He is a Christian but convinced of an old earth. We
    had a good conversation afterwards, and he said that although he
    disagreed with my position, he felt that I'd "made a good case for
    it". I was encouraged by some of what he had to say about
    radiometric dating. This is his field of work and so he was very
    knowledgeable on the subject. In his opinion, rubidium-strontium
    (Rb-Sr) isotopic data are very difficult to interpret because false
    isochrons are so common, and potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating is so
    fraught with problems that "nobody believes K-Ar dates" (his words)
    anymore. However, he pinned his confidence in radiometric dating
    on other methods, such as uranium-lead (U-Pb) dating of zircons -
    which has a whole set of problems all of its own."

    The point I would make here is that most people would never know
    from the literature that false Rb-Sr isochrons are so common, and
    that "nobody believes K-Ar dates". Such knowledge comes from
    insiders who see the results before they are published.

    In a private email from Dr. Tim Standish at GRI:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>In Arial Roth's book he cites Runge et al 1973 “Radiocarbon chronology and problems in its interpretation for Quarternary loess deposits-South
    Canterbury, New Zealand”, Soil Science Society of America Proceedings 37:742-746. in which they give a sequence of C14 dates of soil layers going from top to bottom of 9,900, 12,000, 27,200, 17,300 and 15,650 years. Obviously the last two dates can't be right and they are dropped out of a subsequent paper, Tonkin et al. 1974. “A study of late Pleistocene loess deposits, South Canterbury, New Zealand. Part 2: Paleosols and their statigraphic implications.” Quarternary Research 4:217-231.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The following came in from a friend who is a graduate student now:

    Hi Helen,

    This shouldn't even be a debated issue, because it's a fact. I used
    radiometric dates in my masters thesis, and if they seemed to be "off" a bit, they were simply said to be wrong. Of course I did what I was told to do, but my feeling was that the commonly accepted wisdom is that the methods are fallible, and so if the date is wrong, no worries! My question then becomes, how do we know when it is right? It's not talked about much. God bless!


    A personal friend of ours is Dr. Graham Mortimer:

    Barry and I both took the time individually to talk with him on the phone about the discarding of dates. Graham works with zircon crystals. He stated that about 15-20% of the dates were considered anomalous and thus not used. Keeping in mind that zircon dating is probably the most reliable and yet, as Andrew Snelling has mentioned, still frought with problems

    it is quite reasonable to assume that more than 15-20% of the dates obtained by other methods would be considered anomalous/unreliable and thus not used.
    I am willing to take back “most” as me believing something I was told without checking it myself, but the more I ask and read, the more aware I am of two things:
    1. There are quite a number of dates that are discarded by lab or researcher or both as being wrong from the start
    2. and almost no one is willing to talk about it.


    [ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
  3. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    Helen, once again your answer is laced with 'what-if' scenarios and a few
    unverifiable personal communications. The evidence you do seem to cite is
    from published sources. Since I not only conduct geochronological studies
    but also review geochronologic studies, read the literature and work in a
    University with two geochronologic labs, I think that I am quite familiar
    with the mode of operation. However, let's assume, for the sake of argument
    that 10-15% of ages produced are anomalous. That leaves 85% of age
    determinations that are not. How do you explain the 85% of ages that are
    not anomalous? You must also remember that we are dealing with natural
    systems where alteration can and does take place. Geochronologists have
    devised a number of ways to deal with alteration of systems and do so on a
    continual basis. I went back and looked at the percentage of age
    determinations that I personally have worked on and less than 5% are
    troubling. Each one of those 5% have a reasonable explanation for why they
    didn't work (from excess argon clearly evident in the plateaus to severe
    hydrothermal alteration of the samples). In any case, your argument that
    most dates are toosed out before publication fails yet again. Think about
    it for a minute. If geochronology was so utterly unsuccessful, the geologic
    community would stop using it. They do not. The ages produced in labs have
    verified field relationships time and time again. This fact argues my point
    much more strongly than your accusation of subversion on the part of the
    geochronologists. Finally, I might also add that none of these anomalous
    ages points to a young earth. You would think that somewhere in that 10-15%
    of anomalous ages that you claim exist, there would be a bunch of 6000-10000
    year old ages. Why don't you produce some of this evidence? In fact, let's
    assume that your 'friend' Mortimer thinks that dating is unreliable. Why
    does he continue to use the method and publish articles about the method?
    Seems like if something is so horribly awry with radiometric dating, Graham
    would stop using it and call for its abolition. Yet, there he is publishing
    away on the subject and continuing to use it on a daily basis. Seems like
    that would be such a waste of time for such an awful technique! I must
    conclude on the basis of your arguments that you really don't have any hard
    data available to substantiate your claims. Your insistence is simply that
    geochronologists are dishonest. I find that absurd.
  4. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    My recollection is that the great majority of isotopic dates are K-Ar
    dates, so that if 85 percent of dates agree it could be largely because
    K-Ar dating agrees with itself much of the time. A better statistic
    would be how often different dating methods (different parent and
    daughter substances) agree on the same sample or formation.

    I recall that there is a technique called "mineral isochrons" in which
    different minerals from the same rock are dated by the same method, say
    Rb-Sr dating or U-Pb dating -- I'm not sure which would be appropriate.
    This can be treated as an isochron since if all minerals cooled at
    about the same time, any changes in parent to daughter substance would
    have arisen since then (if the system were not disturbed etc.). One
    would expect different minerals to absorb different amounts of parent
    and daughter substance on cooling so one should get a good isochron.
    At least I can't think of anything that would throw off this method.
    So my question is how often are such "mineral isochrons" or should I
    say "multiple mineral isochrons" done? I read that they are not done
    much because of the difficulty of isolating the different mineral
    fractions, but if they give more reliable dates it might be worth the
    effort. What would be especially interesting is if two mineral
    isochrons from the same rock, using two different parent-daughter
    substances, gave nearly the same date -- has this been found? If such
    a method gives "good" dates then either the sample is old or decay
    rates were faster in the past.

    My recollection is that different methods often agree on certain
    meteorites, and maybe even on certain very old (appearing) rocks on
    earth, but much less often in the Phanerozoic (Cambrian and later).

    Dave Plaisted

    (Let me also add that it is not so easy to know whether the dates are
    biased -- if geologists believe zircons to be more accurate then it would
    appear that more and more of the dates in the literature would be from
    zircons. Thus the proportion of the dates in the literature could be
    skewed towards methods (or sub-methods, or formations) that seem to give
    more accurate results, and thus the system could be in some sense
    self-fulfilling. Of course this is just speculation but it's hard to see
    how this would not bias the results.)
  5. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    What I find absurd, Joe, is that you don’t seem to actually read my

    1. I did not say geochronologists are dishonest. I think they are being
    quite as straight as they can be in line with the faith in long ages and
    the fact that almost all radiometric data points to long ages at the
    very least.

    2. Dr. Mortimer does not think the dating is unreliable. He simply said
    that there was a certain percentage of the dates which were considered
    unreliable. There is a big difference.

    3. I would not expect short ages out of radiometric dates for the very
    reason of the change of decay rates in the past – this change from much
    faster than now to now would guarantee that few or no dates would
    indicate a recent age.

    4. I think the references pointed out quite clearly that when field
    assumptions and radiometric dates differ the field assumptions win.

    5. I retracted, with apologies, the statement that MOST dates were
    thrown out and admitted I had understood or been told wrongly about
  6. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    To Dave Plaisted
    Your intuition may be correct that most geochronologic data
    available are K-Ar determinations. I would not bet against that
    conclusion, since it was one of the first and cheapest methods for
    determining ages. It also has a wide range of applications so the
    cheapness and the range made it extremely popular. It still is used
    quite a bit today and it does quite a good job.

    Today, our
    understanding of closure temperatures and the behavior of the K-Ar
    system is much better constrained by using the 40Ar/39Ar method. In
    general, most of the K-Ar ages that I have personally examined are quite
    robust. In the cases where the ages seemed a bit askew based on more
    recent datings, the 40Ar/39Ar system usually reveals the reason why the
    K-Ar ages were skewed. In fact, the 40Ar/39Ar has been a nice
    addition and way to double check for isotopic disturbances in the K-Ar

    In terms of your experiment using different isochrons for different
    minerals in the same rock, it has been done a number of times (some of
    these can be gleaned from the database in Meert, 2002). You must
    remember a few things about such an experiment. The first has to do
    with the idea of isotopic closure. Different isotopes close under
    different conditions (depending on the isotope, temperature and grain
    size). Let me give you two examples that I am personally familiar with.
    There are many others out there, but I am at home and these are both in
    my brain. The first is from the Carion granite in Madagascar. The
    granite has been dated using a variety of methods. U-Pb SHRIMP ages and
    U-Pb evaporation ages overlap with small errors at ~535 Ma (Kroner et
    al., 2000; Meert et al., 2001). The U-Pb system closes at temperatures
    well above 850 C. 40Ar/39Ar studies on hornblende and biotite and
    K-feldspar yield younger ages of ~513 Ma and ~480 Ma consistent with
    their experimental closure temperatures of 500 C and 350 C respectively.
    Multidomain K-feldspar studies yield younger ages and cooler
    temperatures that helped us develop a composite cooling curve (see


    This study was done in
    conjunction with a paleomagnetic study on the same rocks. A
    pre-existing apparent polar wander path had been established for the
    continent of Gondwana (Meert and Van der Voo, 1997). The pole for the
    Carion granite fell on this APWP at 510 Ma. Temperature studies on
    magnetic minerals within the granite combined with the cooling curve for
    the granite yielded a magnetic blocking age of 508 +/- 11 Ma entirely
    consistent with its location on the APWP (details are described in Meert
    et al., 2001a, 2001b).
    A second study that has been done using multiple isotopic
    systems, in multiple labs over a number of years resulted in wholly
    consistent and overlapping ages for the Fen carbonatite complex in
    southern Norway. This study is also described in the above link. Such
    agreement between systems and labs is pretty tough to refute without
    calling on conspiracy or some miraculous (and yet undescribed physics).
    It may happen, but a much simpler explanation is that science has it
    right and radiometric dating does, indeed, work. As for your assertion
    that radiometric dating is better for older rocks, I’d love to see data
    confirming that. As far as I can tell from my knowledge of the
    literature, it works well across the board. In addition, given that the
    longer rocks are around, the more likely the possibility for younger
    disturbance, I would have anticipated the opposite assertion. That is
    younger rocks should yield the most consistent ages. The best part
    about the whole process is that we can now tell, with some ease and
    care, when isotopic systems have been disturbed. In fact, some of these
    thermal disturbances have helped us decipher tectonic histories with
    greater precision than ever (see Meert, 2002 available at


    I would indeed argue that
    radiometric dating is healthy, happy and wonderfully consistent with the
    rock record.

    Finally, let me state that while it is time consuming to separate
    minerals, it is not all that big of a deal and there are many more Rb-Sr
    mineral isochrons generated now than previously. This is in response to
    valid criticisms regarding the co-genetic assumptions of whole rock
    dating. I don't think there is anything inherently difficult about
    separating minerals at all.


    Thanks for withdrawing the blanket claim against radiometric
    dating and for acknowledging that science, for the most part, is a noble
    pursuit. As I mentioned, even if we assume your 15% bad age estimate is
    correct, that still leaves 85% supporting the method. As I also
    mentioned above, I would guess that we can explain the anomalous
    behavior in 90% of those 15% of bad ages. This is part and parcel of
    the method. We constantly check and double check the results for signs
    of isotopic disturbance. What constantly amazes me is how robust the
    data really are. Radiometric dating is attacked by creationists quite
    often because it is such a powerful tool for showing the age of the
    earth. Young earth creationism, in particular, falls apart in the face
    of radiometric data and they must maintain that it doesn’t work. At
    the same time, there is very little evidence available that supports the
    notion of a young earth from the radiometric side of things. I don’t
    fault you for trying to disprove the methods because you have to. I
    just hope that the arguments amount to more than innuendo and slander
    against geochronologists. Most of the ‘case-studies’ conducted by
    creation scientists suffer the same problem. None of the scientists are
    trained in the field and laboratory methods and it causes
    misinterpretation of the data (see


    I notice that the RATE
    group at ICR has hopes of overturning radiometric dating, but their
    methods are also somewhat suspect at the moment (see


    Still, I know that
    radiometric dating is a big threat to the young earth creationist
    community and they must continue to attack it at every opportunity. So
    far, not much has come of the attacks, but at least there is no lack of
    As for your earlier innuendos based on e-mailed accounts of personal
    recollections, I can tell you that K-Ar ages are viewed within their
    full context and the statement that 'nobody trusts K-Ar ages' would mean
    that they would not get published, yet they are. As with all isotopic
    studies, the authors must document the proper tests so that the data can
    be fully evaluated.

    Kroner, A. et al. Age and magmatic history of the Antananarivo block,
    central Madagascar as derived from zircon geochronology and Nd-isotope
    systematics, Am. J. Sci., 300, 251-258 (2000).

    Meert, J.G. A Synopsis of Events Related to the Assembly of Eastern
    Gondwana, Tectonophys., in press. Tectonophys., (2002, in press).

    Meert, J.G., Nédélec, A., Hall, C.M., Wingate, M.T.D. and
    Rakotondrazafy, Paleomagnetism, geochronology and tectonic implications
    of the Carion granite, central Madagascar, Tectonophys. v. 340, p 1-21

    Meert, J.G., Hall, C., Nédélec, A. and Razanatseheno, M.M, Cooling of a
    late-syn orogenic pluton: evidence from laser K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar
    modeling of the Carion granite, Madagascar, Gondwana Research, 4:3,
    541-550 (2001b).

    Meert, J.G., Torsvik, T.H., Eide, E.A. and Dahlgren, S., Tectonic
    significance of the Fen Province, S. Norway: Constraints from
    geochronology and paleomagnetism, J. Geology, 106, 553-564, (1998).

    Meert, J.G. and Van der Voo, R., The assembly of Gondwana (800-550 Ma),
    J. Geodyn., 23, 3-4, 223-235, 1997.

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