Radioactive dating facts
Even things that work well do not work well all of the time and under all circumstances.
Try, for example, wearing a watch that is not waterproof while swimming. A few verified examples of incorrect radiometric ages are simply insufficient to prove that radiometric dating is invalid.
Scientists who use radiometric dating typically use every means at their disposal to check, recheck, and verify their results, and the more important the results the more they are apt to be checked and rechecked by others.
Some so-called creation scientists have attempted to show that radiometric dating does not work on theoretical grounds (for example, Arndts and Overn 1981; Gill 1996) but such attempts invariably have fatal flaws (see Dalrymple 1984; York and Dalrymple 2000).
The Pierre Shale, which is divided into identifiable sedimentary beds called members, also contains abundant fossils of numerous species of ammonites, ancestors of the chambered nautilus.
The fossils, when combined with geologic mapping, allow the various exposed sections of the Pierre Shale to be pieced together in their proper relative positions to form a complete composite section (Figure 1).
It is rare for a study involving radiometric dating to contain a single determination of age.
Usually determinations of age are repeated to avoid laboratory errors, are obtained on more than one rock unit or more than one mineral from a rock unit in order to provide a cross-check, or are evaluated using other geologic information that can be used to test and corroborate the radiometric ages.
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).