LETTER: Dissatisfied with the application of the scientific method | Letters to the Editor

The Minnesota Department of Education uses the National Academy of Sciences’ “Framework for K-12 Science Education” to develop its standards. How do they prove that the age of the earth is greater than 4 billion years? ESS1.C. says, “Radioactive decay lifetimes and the isotopic content of rocks provide a means of dating rock formations and thus fixing the geologic time scale.” (page 178) They don’t go into detail on how it works.

In 2019, I asked the Minnesota Geological Survey how they knew the rocks were 3.6 million years old, which they reference on a bronze plaque in Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls.

They sent me two geochronology papers with extensive details on the use of high precision equipment (i.e. high resolution sensitive ion microprobe) with various techniques to determine age via the interpretation of the isotopic ratios in the zircon crystals in the granitic rock sample.

Then I asked how they knew:

1. The rock formation has remained a closed system throughout its history.

2. The initial concentration of the parent or daughter isotope.

3. Decay rates have not changed over billions of years.

4. All parent and daughter isotopes are evenly distributed in the rock formation.

I received a reply saying that geochronology tends to be built on multiple assumptions.

But multiple hypotheses cannot be confirmed by the scientific method and should not be presented as “facts” and cast in bronze for the indoctrination of the general public.

Geochronology was used to analyze lava rock from Mount Ngauruhoe in New Zealand known to be 60 years old; the various isotopic methods have resulted in dates ranging from 270,000 to 3.9 billion years ago.

If the earth was billions of years old, then its magnetic field should be gone by now, and we would be unprotected from harmful radiation. If we extrapolate the rate of decay of the field backwards, the earth would have been torn apart by intense magnetism only 10,000 years ago. Some of the planets have a similar situation.

The Minnesota Department of Education and the National Academy of Sciences need to follow the scientific method and give students a more honest assessment of this “Earth Age” science subject.

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About Donald P. Hooten

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