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.
The bodies of living things generally have concentrations of the isotope carbon-14, also known as radiocarbon, identical to concentrations in the atmosphere.
Contamination and repeatability are also factors that have to be considered with carbon dating.
A tiny amount of carbon contamination will greatly skew test results, so sample preparation is critical.
Tiny variations within a particular sample become significant enough to skew results to the point of absurdity.
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.
Due to all these factors, it’s common for carbon dating results of a particular sample, or even a group of samples, to be rejected for the sole reason that they don’t align with the “expected” results.