Radio carbon dating mistakes
Likewise, different living things absorb or reject carbon-14 at different rates.
Two plants that died at the same moment, but which naturally contained different levels of radiocarbon, could be dated to drastically different times.
Most archaeological items can’t be directly carbon dated, so their dating is based on testing done on nearby objects or materials.
This makes the results subject to the researchers’ assumptions about those objects.
In short, carbon dating is as useful as any other technique, so long as it’s done properly and the results are objectively interpreted.
Carbon dating is based on the loss of carbon-14, so, even if the present amount in a specimen can be detected accurately, we must still know how much carbon-14 the organism started with.
When an organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon-14, and whatever is inside gradually decays into other elements.
Carbon-14 normally makes up about 1 trillionth (1/1,000,000,000,000) of the earth’s atmosphere.
Several factors affect radiocarbon test results, not all of which are easy to control objectively.
For this reason, it’s preferable to date objects using multiple methods, rather than relying on one single test.