Margin of error in radiocarbon dating

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Radioactive decay rates have been measured for over sixty years now for many of the decay clocks without any observed changes.

And it has been close to a hundred years since the uranium-238 decay rate was first determined.

The slope of the line determines the date, and the closeness of fit is a measure of the statistical reliability of the resulting date.

Technical details on how these dates are calculated are given in Radiometric dating. As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain "glitches" and "anomalies," as noted in the literature.

Several hundred laboratories around the world are active in radiometric dating.

Their results consistently agree with an old Earth.

In a separate article (Radiometric dating), we sketched in some technical detail how these dates are calculated using radiometric dating techniques.A recent survey of the rubidium-strontium method found only about 30 cases, out of tens of thousands of published results, where a date determined using the proper procedures was subsequently found to be in error.One question that sometimes arises here is how can scientists assume that rates of radioactivity have been constant over the great time spans involved.Such failures may be due to laboratory errors (mistakes happen), unrecognized geologic factors (nature sometimes fools us), or misapplication of the techniques (no one is perfect).We scientists who measure isotope ages do not rely entirely on the error estimates and the self-checking features of age diagnostic diagrams to evaluate the accuracy of radiometric ages.

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