There is one assignment that I give regularly to a class of mine which just has them research some dating method that we don’t cover in class. We generally cover relative dating with geological principles and then absolute dating methods like radiometric dating and then we bring in tree rings, varves and ice cores. I then give them a prompt that looks something like this:
Please pick one of the following methods of absolute dating methods:
Thermoluminescence Electron Spin Resonance Amino Acid Dating Fission Track Dating Gyrochronology White dwarf cooling
For this discussion post you should do a literature search for the particular method and will address the following:
How is the technique performed? What kinds of age ranges can it potentially measure? What are some uncertainties involved in the technique? What are ways scientists have limited such uncertainties? Are there ways to cross-check results with other techniques based upon different underlying phenomena? What is one important result (this can be your own take unless there's an obvious answer) that we've learned about the past using your technique of choice?
There is one of these possible topics that nearly 100% of will use at least one YEC website as their source. Can you guess which one it is? I had this idea where I would search for various YEC sites and see which ones they write the most about (abbreviating the various methods above):
Interestingly enough, I tend to get zero people who cite YEC for gyrochronology and white dwarf cooling. Out of all of these, I actually get the highest percentage who cite YEC sources for amino acid dating followed by thermoluminescence dating. From the number of webpages I would have thought fission track dating would have the most YEC sources. So then I wondered how students seem to be grabbing a lot of YEC pages on different topics and I decided to do a ‘Google’ search on a clean browser with no cookies or past memory to see if any YEC pages pop up first and this is what I found:
It looks like somehow YEC sites are at the top of a clean Google search, specifically with regards to Amino Acid Racemization and that’s probably why students cite them the most. You might notice I put a -1 for fission track dating because there is a website that debunks YEC claims in the top 10 Google sites. I’m not sure how the order is determined but I wish Google searches didn’t put pseudoscience sites close to the top. Has anyone else come across something like this?