Radiocarbon dating calibration oxcal

23 Aug

Steve Mc Intyre and others opined that an allegation of misconduct was inappropriate in this sort of case, and likely to be counter-productive. Nevertheless, the post prompted an interesting discussion with statistical expert Professor Radford Neal of Toronto University and with Nullius in Verba (an anonymous but statistically-minded commentator).

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I’ll leave discussion of the merits of Doug’s methods to the end. Statistical issues involved in radiocarbon calibration The key point is that Ox Cal and Calib use a subjective Bayesian method with a wide uniform prior on the parameter being estimated, here calendar age, whilst the observational data provides information about a variable, radiocarbon or 14C age, that has a nonlinear relationship to the parameter of interest.It seems to me that the Ox Cal and Calib methods are conceptually wrong, just as use of a uniform prior for estimating climate sensitivity is normally inappropriate.In the case of climate sensitivity, I have been arguing for a long time that Bayesian methods are only appropriate if one takes an objective approach, using a noninformative prior, rather than a subjective approach (using, typically, a uniform or expert prior).Where a data–parameter relationship is linear and the data error distribution is independent of the parameter value, that conversion factor will be fixed, leading to Jeffreys’ prior being uniform.But where a data–parameter relationship is nonlinear and/or the data precision is variable, Jeffreys’ prior achieves noninformativeness by being appropriately non-uniform.