Dave’s 4th Post

Author: afdave1 [ Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:04 am ]
Post subject:


Finally … I’ve been given a link which really explains dendrochronology very well. Thank you BWE. The above graphic is one of many that appear here …

http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/skeletonplo … ssdate.htm

They even have nifty little Java applets that let you play around with plotting.

Very cool!

I would highly recommend going through the whole thing.

That’s the good news.



The entire [master] chronology is the work of one laboratory, the director of which [Ferguson] has refused to allow critical study of the raw data.

–Biochemist Herbert W. Sorenson, Ph.D (See below)

[AFDave wrote] Now, BWE … please …

I am not interested in later papers at the moment. I am INITIALLY interested understanding MASTER SEQUENCE BUILDING.

Ferguson seems to be a key player in this as basically the “foundation layer” for all that followed.

I should certainly like to see hi-res photos of the 17 samples he used to build that chronology pictured in my last post. [5]Have you seen these samples? [6]Any way to get hi-resolution photos of them? [7]Are the hi-res photos published in some paper somewhere that I can obtain? And how about my questions on the Comment Thread? [7]Can you explain Mean Sensitivity=0.33 and Serial Correlation=0.46? What does this mean?

Thanks. Over to you.


Answers to questions 5, 6, 7.
5.No. Why? I would use databases to check my own samples against because all that work has already been done. You can find important data here.

6.I don’t know. Why? Do you know an expert who needs to examine them? You could call the Laboratory of Tree ring Research at the University of Arizona and I’m sure they could help you out.
Main Office: 105 West Stadium
Tucson, AZ 85721-0058 USA
phone: +1 520 621 1608
fax: +1 520 621 8229.

[Snip explanation about sensitivity]

Now why do I say this is the bad news? Well because BWE answers “NO” to Questions 5, 6 and 7, yet he trust the experts implicitly. Now I thought scientists were supposed to DIS-trust everything and question everything and try to prove everything wrong. That’s what numerous people here have told me anyway. So BWE … why have you not asked to see these samples? Why has not SOMEONE asked to see these samples? [It turns out they have … see below] Why are these samples not available for other scientists to examine? Isn’t that a little bit “close to the vest”? What are they hiding?

Creationist Walter Brown (PhD in Mech. Eng from MIT) was the one that alerted me to this little … *Ahem* … problem … in his footnotes …

“The entire chronology is the work of one laboratory, the director of which [C. W. Ferguson] has refused to allow critical study of the raw data.” For details, see Herbert C. Sorensen, “Bristlecone Pines and Tree-Ring Dating: A Critique,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 13, June 1976, p. 5.

So … being the conscientious creationist that I am I pulled up my archives of CRSQ (yes, I subscribe to all the leading publications on both sides of the aisle) and Voila! Here’s the article referred to by Brown.

It is written by Herbert C. Sorensen, Ph.D., who is [was at that time] a biochemist and president of Columbia Laboratories in Corbett, Oregon. He is also a Research Fellow of the Geoscience Research Institute in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

I’m sure many of you will tune him out now that you know he’s from GRISDA, but nonetheless, I’ll tell you what he says anyway …

Herbert C. Sorensen, “Bristlecone Pines and Tree-Ring Dating: A Critique,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 13, June 1976, p. 5.

Validity of cross matching signatures has been well established in specific applications. It has not been established in the bristlecone pine chronology. Major difficulties of the bristlecone pine chronology will be discussed in order of significance:

1. Cross matching is subjective and largely depends on visual inspection and comparison; with statistical analysis
after a cross match has been identified. The whole thing depends on the judgement of a highly skilled, trained but fallible investigator.

The magnitude of this problem can be assessed by considering the difficulty of matching a specimen with several hundred rings against a composite of several thousand rings. So great is the difficulty in finding cross matches that the wood is first radiocarbon dated to determine its approximate location in the chronology.5

I have these facts in writing from the original investigators who cite the bristlecone pines dates as being in excellent agreement with radiocarbon dates.6,7  Of course they
agree. Since the bristlecone pine dates are at least partially determined by radiocarbon dates it is essentially a case of circular reasoning.

A colleague and I, under the auspices of the Geoscience Research Institute, have attempted to circumvent the subjectiveness
of cross dating by developing a method for systematically searching for cross matches by computer. Our results have been encouraging and have shown the feasibility
of eliminating the subjective element.

2. The rings width patterns in the bristlecone pines are not sufficiently distinctive. The rings are extremely thin (as many as 100 per cm) with a high percentage missing. (See
reference 4). The most distinctive rings are the thinnest and these are of course the ones most likely to be missing. If the very thin rings are removed from any specimen the
result is a non-distinctive pattern termed complacent. Complacent specimens are unsuitable for cross matching.

In the case of pine alpha, one of the more famous members of the bristlecone pine chronology, if the nine missing
rings are left out the result is a complacent specimen.8 In fact, nearly half of the components of the bristlecone pine
chronology are insensitive and relatively complacent, even with “missing” rings included.

3. The entire chronology is the work of one laboratory, the director of which has refused to allow critical study of the raw data. It is a fortunate scientist who finds his work of such interest to a colleague that much time and effort is spent in critical appraisal of the work. Because of the farreaching
implications of the bristlecone pine chronology to radiocarbon dating, archaeology, climatology, etc., it is essential
that every facet be critically appraised.

I have dedicated a substantial amount of time to such an endeavor but have been considerably hampered by the lack
of available data. Refusal by the original investigators to make such data available seems inexplicable. Surely the cause of science cannot suffer by focusing opposing viewpoints
on raw data.

In conclusion, the bristlecone pine chronology is flawed
through lack of adequate documentation. Answers to the
following five questions would substantially clarify the

a. How can a chronology be constructed with a high
percentage of complacent specimens?
b. How can specimens with up to 10 percent of their
rings missing be cross matched under any circumstances?
c. How can this chronology be used to “calibrate” radiocarbon
dating when radiocarbon dating is used in construction
of the chronology?
d. If a ring is missing how can it be found, especially
when a high percentage of rings are missing?
e. Why is only the final chronology published, with refusal
to release the data upon which it is based?

1 Stallings, W. S. 1973. Tree-Ring Bulletin 3:27.
2 Sorenson. , H. C. 1973. The ages of bristlecone pine Pensee, 3(2):15-18
3 Stokes, M. A. , and T. L. Smiley 1968. An introduction to tree
ring dating. University of Chicago Press.
4 Ferguson, C. W. 1969. Tree-Ring Bulletin 29: 1.
5 Ferguson, C. W. 1970. Personal communication, 3 March.
6 Ralph, E. K., and H. N. Michael 1974. Twenty-five years of
radiocarbon dating, American Scientist, 62 (5): 553-560.
7 Libby, W. F. 1972 Dating by radiocarbon, Accounts of chemical
research, 5 (9):289-295.
8 Ferguson, C. W. 1970. Personal communication, 23 April.
9 La Marche, V. C., Jr., and T. P. Harlan 1973. Accuracy of tree
ring dating of bristlecone pine for calibration of the radiocarbon
time scale, Journal of Geophysical Research, 78 (36):8849-8858.

This was 30 years ago, guys and gals. Sorenson was asking the very same questions I have been asking 30 years ago!!


So BWE, my friend … your a nice guy and I’m sure you are very good at what you do.

But it looks like you’ve got some hard questions to answer.

Can you answer them?


My 3 questions:

1. Where do you support the assertion that 14C calibration curves are built on “not-very-robust data sets”?

2. Can you point me to a single creationist science article making negative claims about dendrochronology or 14C dating that does not use dishonest science or rhetorical games intended to obfuscate?

3. How can Dendrochronology and 14C calibration be circular when Fairbanks’ curves use up to 12 independent sources for 14C calibration curves?

1) From the Ferguson paper. There are only 17 specimens and no one has been allowed to examine the raw data.
2) Yes. None of the ones I have cited use dishonesty of any kind.
3) Easily. Just as I have explained above. Yes, we must also look at the other methods, but now we are examining dendro.


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