I am going to take the highly unusual step (for me) of defending an academic against a blog post on Bishop hill.
The issue at stake is carbon 14 dating as used by archaeologists to derive dates. And as I’m an amateur archaeologist I will declare I have an interest. As carbon 14 is one of the most useful tools to an archaeologist I feel that it is very important for those who use these dates to get to the bottom of this issue.
As such I have spent the day looking at this and cannot understand how it has reached the stage where Keenan is threatening legal or police action. What concerns me most is that I cannot find any evidence of any intentional distortion, nor that similar issues in the past have been ignored, nor that Ramsay has not listened and would not use a better methodology if it were practical. In contrast to what we have seen on climate, the letter from Ramsay to Keenan as posted on Bishop Hill appears to be almost the paradigm of pragmatism & honesty which we sceptics are always asking for, particularly the statement:
“all models are wrong but some are useful”
Moreover, Ramsay acknowledges that Keenan is largely correct but identifies a number of problems with using Keenan’s preferred methodology.
This is hardly the hallmark of a “fraud” as suggested by Bishop Hill.
The important thing here that climate sceptics need to appreciate, is that there simply is no reason why archaeologists as a group would want to see false Carbon 14 dates. Indeed, I can think of absolutely no reason why they would not wish to improve the techniques if this were practical. It therefore seems to me, that Ramsay has acted reasonably and from the evidence available, Keenan has not. Much of the issue seems to me to be whether the methodology advocated by Keenan is practical and/or gives sufficient improved dating to warrant the added complexity which in itself could introduce additional errors as a result of using a more opaque methodology.