Accuracy of carbon 14 dating

It is not correct to state or imply from this evidence that the radiocarbon dating technique is thus shown to be generally invalid.The problem with freshwater clams arises because these organisms derive the carbon atoms which they use to build their shells from the water in their environment.MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.Some organic materials do give radiocarbon ages in excess of 50,000 "radiocarbon years." However, it is important to distinguish between "radiocarbon years" and calendar years.The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 1940's.It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field.In the early days of radiocarbon analysis this limit was often around 20,000 radiocarbon years.Thus, all the researcher was able to say about samples with low levels of radiocarbon was that their age was greater than or equal to 20,000 radiocarbon years (or whatever the sensitivity limit of his apparatus was).

It is not too difficult to supply contaminating radiocarbon since it is present in relatively high concentrations in the air and in the tissues of all living things including any individuals handling the sample.

It is not difficult to see how such a claim could arise, however.

There are two characteristics of the instrumental measurement of radiocarbon which, if the lay observer is unaware, could easily lead to such an idea.

The shells of live freshwater clams can, and often do, give anomalous radiocarbon results.

However, the reason for this is understood and the problem is restricted to only a few special cases, of which freshwater clams are the best-known example.

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