The Case of the KBS Tuff

What is perhaps the most well-documented account of  Radiometric Dating exposed (as propaganda) is the case of the KBS Tuff.  My comments are in Blue.


I used to believe that Radiometric Dating methods "proved" that the earth was VERY OLD -- on the order of billions of years.   Then I became aware of a growing number of scientists -- most of them Christians -- who were saying that Radiometric Methods are not what we were told, and that they are almost totally unreliable as far as telling us how old a rock is, or even when it solidified.  The reason I came to reject such dates outright -- as both inaccurate and based more on faith in the (man-made and changeable) Geological Time Chart, than on science -- are elaborated on in my papers on Radiometric Dating, Carbon 14 Dating, and also as elaborated on below.
About 12 years ago, I started going to one of our Big Universities and looking up articles in the literature (mostly abstract Journals and Science and Nature magazines) that had to do with Radiometric dates that were grossly in error or that contradicted the actual (i.e. historically) known dates of eruption.  Many of those articles and their erroneous "dates" are referenced on my Radiometric Dating page (in Tables One and Two).
However, lets take the case of the KBS tuff, as our example of how I can make such a claim.  One of the best accounts I have read on this subject is given by Marvin Lubenow, in his book Bones of Contention.  It is also very well documented.  The full version is in his book.  A summary is Here.  And this short article is a modified version of what is found at
Below is a portion of an email that was posted by me on a debate forum, along with My comments, -- which are in Blue.  I have also highlighted portions that I felt were significant.

Karen G. Jensen (
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 10:39:05 -0600


Hi Glenn,

Here is my promised post on the KBS tuff.

Thu, 06 Nov 1997 05:48:18 -0600 you replied to my questions about it --you may have wondered why I asked:

>>Do you really believe in the accuracy of the dates claimed for these fossils? Even the KBS tuff -- after all we saw in Nature magazine in the 1970's on that (re: dating Skull 1470)?
>The vertebrate paleontological data from the strata below the Tuff contradicted the original radioactive date. The pigs found in that strata were from a younger time than the original radioactive date. It was this >inconsistency between two different dating methods which forced a re-dating by other methods. this then resolved the discrepancy.

But did it really resolve this "discrepancy" ???
Now what actually happened with this? Watch the sequence of events:

Early attempts to date the KBS tuff (1969) gave an age of 212-230 million years which was immediately rejected as an extraneous argon age discrepancy, because of the presence of Australopithicine and other mammalian fossils beneath the tuff (Fitch & Miller 1970, Nature 226:226-8).  

The dating was complicated because the tuff is a water-transported mixture.  But they did find an acceptable date, which was then confirmed by several "independent methods":

Notice here that it is NOT the Radiometric Methods that are calling the shots, but rather the Geological Time Chart -- which is based on the theory of Evolution -- to which all Radiometric dates must bow down.

Therefore any radiometric date for dinosaur bones that is less than 65 m.y. is rejected -- no matter how "fresh-looking" the bones appear
to be -- even if they contain organic dinosaur molecules.

In the early 1970's the KBS tuff was "securely dated" at 2.6 million years based on:

Notice that the Tuff was "securely" then re-dated at 2.6 m.y., and subsequently double-checked by various other methods.

Vertebrate faunas -- Elephant, Suid (pig), Australopithicus, and tools  (Maglio, 1972; Nature 239:379-85, Leaky, 1967-69, etc.)

 1. Based on other fossils that were very similar.

Potassium-Argon dating -- selected crystals (K-Ar and Ar40-Ar39) (Fitch & Miller '70, Nature 226:226-8 and see 251:214)

2. On K-Ar and Ar40-Ar39 dating.

Paleomagnetism -- polarity data, based on 247 samples below KBS tuff (Brock & Isaac, 1974, Nature 247:344-48)

 3. Paleomagnetism.

Fission Track Dating -- involving uranium, noting possible reanealing (Hurford, 1974, Nature 249:236; '76, 263:738)

4. Fission Track Dating.

This was, of course, after tossing out the 212 -- 230 million-year-old "Date" that was "obviously way too old."  But this "New" date was still not good enough for the evolutionists: which is why Richard Leakey said:

In the mid 1970's Leaky's team found Skull 1470 below the KBS Tuff (Leaky,'73, Nature 242:447, National Geographic June, 1973 pp 819-829) and Leaky said, "either we toss out this skull, or we toss out our theories of early man".  
Skull 1470 was "too modern" to be found at that level, if the Australopithicenes (found both above and below the KBS tuff) were ancestral to modern man.

So because the "science" was not in agreement with the THEORY, they tossed it out -- including all of the ("absolute") radiometric dates, paleomagnetic dates, and other fossil dates -- which were all in agreement (with the 2.6 m.y. "date").  But in so doing they were also (like it or not) admitting that such dating methods are not as independent, accurate, or absolute as we have been told to believe.

Other anthropologists, notably Johanson's team at Berkeley, couldn't accept any claim of such modern hominids in strata dated almost 3 million years old. They tried to redate the KBS. It was a complex problem because  the tuff is a slurry of volcanic debris. But they did find and publish a date that was suitable to them: 1.8 million years, based on:

- Hominid Fossils -- Skull 1470 and other similar skulls below KBS tuff

- Potassium-Argon (K-Ar) -- on pumice from the KBS tuff and Ar-Ar -- on selected feldspar crystals (Ar40-Ar39) (Curtis et al,1975, Nature 258:395 (& see 284:229,230 & 294:123)

Then in the late 1970's, a remarkable thing happened. One by one (with much heated controversy apparent in the papers) the other "independent methods" re-evaluated their work in light of the new radiometric date, and confirmed the new age:

I.E.: One by one all of those former "good" dates were scrapped in favor of a younger date which was more in agreement with the theory of evolution.

- Paleomagnetism -- pinpointing a different polarity reversal, in light of the change in the K-Ar date (Hillhouse et al, 1977,  Nature 265:411)

- Vertebrate Faunas -- three suid (pig) species (based on teeth) suggesting possible phylogenetic branching and its timing in relationship to the new radiometric date (Cooke, 1978; Science 201:460-63 (&198:13-21)

- Fission Track Dating -- (U-238 in zircon) emphasizing re-anealing, in light of the change in the accepted K-Ar date (Gleadow, 1980, Nature 284:229-230)

By 1980 there was a new "remarkably concordant" well-accepted radiometric date.

Do you see what happened? Many more dates than those mentioned here were obtained by radiometric methods, but the choice of which one to accept was made on the basis of the fossils (as you pointed out), because the acceptable range of dates for each fossil form was known (by evolutionary theory).

So what Lubenow said came true: i.e. The pig fossils won the day:  For they won over the elephants, and the previous K-Ar, and Ar40--Ar39 dates, and the Paleomagnetic Dates, and the Fission Track Dates.  But (as Lubenow said) what really happened was  that evolution won, because in the game of Radiometric Dating "evolution always wins".  That's because the evolutionists are in control of what gets published in all of those "Scientific" publications, and because (most of the) "dates" that don't fit, are simply discarded.

At each change, the authors may well have sincerely felt that they were separating truth from error. How did they know whether a newly calculated date was right or wrong? What was the basis by which they could judge the acceptability of the date, at 1.8 or 2.6 or 200 million? Was it the fossil record, or accepted ideas about the correct ages of the fossils?

If the deposit had Australopithecines, it could not be 200 million years old, but 2.6 million was alright. If it had more modern hominid skulls, and these evolved from the Australopithicenes, it had to be younger than 2.6 million years old. So the it was the fossils that gave the constraints for the dates -- or, rather, the accepted evolutionary age of the fossils was the criterion that gave the constraints for the acceptable geologic age of the strata. When the known fossil data changed (with their attendant acceptable ages), the chosen date also changed.

In other words, a Radiometric "Date" means nothing unless it is in agreement with accepted evolutionary theories.  I.E. Even if a frozen dinosaur is found somewhere in the Arctic regions, with its flesh still on it, it will most likely not be enough to cause any die-hard believers in evolution to admit that their cherished Idol and theory are wrong. 

Evolutionary theory _about_ the fossils was what gave credence to the published dates that were selected from the range of dates obtained by radiometric and other dating methods.

Is this an isolated case? Not at all. In studies where a range of dates is obtained, the ones in the right ball park are presented, giving the limits of the correct age, and the anomalous ones (if mentioned at all) are explained in terms of mixing of sediments, extra  Argon  retention,  leaching,  and  other  very  plausible processes. The explanations for anomalously old or anomalously young ages may be quite accurate (and may apply to the accepted ages as well!). If no acceptable age is found, the results may not be published at all.

My point is that the accepted ("non-anomalous") age is the age within the timeframe set by evolutionary theory. So it is evolutionary theory that dictates which radiometric results will be acceptable to publish as the age for a fossil. If you want to accept this, you may. But there may be a more sure timescale. I hope we all look very seriously at this and make wise 

That's why I asked. :-)