Drawbacks of radiocarbon dating
For this reason special precautions need to be exercised when sampling materials which contain only small amounts of radiocarbon.
Reports of young radiocarbon ages for coal probably all stem from a misunderstanding of one or both of these two factors.
The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 1940's.
Also, it does not coincide with what creationist scientists would currently anticipate based upon our understanding of the impact of the Flood on radiocarbon.First, any instrument which is built to measure radiocarbon has a limit beyond which it cannot separate the signal due to radiocarbon in the sample from the signal due to background processes within the measuring apparatus.Even a hypothetical sample containing absolutely no radiocarbon will register counts in a radiocarbon counter because of background signals within the counter.Some may have mistaken this to mean that the sample had been dated to 20,000 radiocarbon years.The second characteristic of the measurement of radiocarbon is that it is easy to contaminate a sample which contains very little radiocarbon with enough radiocarbon from the research environment to give it an apparent radiocarbon age which is much less than its actual radiocarbon age.