How reliable is potassium argon dating
As we pointed out in these two articles, radiometric dates are based on known rates of radioactivity, a phenomenon that is rooted in fundamental laws of physics and follows simple mathematical formulas.Dating schemes based on rates of radioactivity have been refined and scrutinized for several decades.Other objections raised by creationists are addressed in [Dalrymple2006a].The overall reliability of radiometric dating was addressed in some detail in a recent book by Brent Dalrymple, a premier expert in the field. 80-81]: These methods provide valid age data in most instances, although there is a small percentage of instances in which even these generally reliable methods yield incorrect results.Several hundred laboratories around the world are active in radiometric dating.
Along this line, Roger Wiens, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, asks those who are skeptical of radiometric dating to consider the following (quoted in several cases from [Wiens2002]): All of the different dating methods agree--they agree a great majority of the time over millions of years of time.
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.
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.