What can radiocarbon dating be used for

Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?" Answer: Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood.Several factors affect radiocarbon test results, not all of which are easy to control objectively.

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Carbon dating therefore relies on enrichment and enhancement techniques to make smaller quantities easier to detect, but such enhancement can also skew the test results. As a result, carbon dating is only plausible for objects less than about 40,000 years old.Even then, a large proportion of radiocarbon dating tests return inconsistent, or even incoherent, results, even for tests done on the same sample.The explanation given for these outliers is usually “contamination.” Inconsistent results are another reason why multiple samples, multiples tests, and various parallel methods are used to date objects.If the spear head is dated using animal bones nearby, the accuracy of the results is entirely dependent on the assumed link between the spear head and the animal.This is perhaps the greatest point of potential error, as assumptions about dating can lead to circular reasoning, or choosing confirming results, rather than accepting a “wrong” date.

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