Dating has come a long way since the time of the cave man. Back in the paleolithic era, strong dating skills was a sign of leadership and essential for surviving, finding a mate, and eventually reproducing.
But resolution for this type of dating was quite low. Though cave men only needed to date animal tracks as fresh or not fresh, this did little to help them learn more about the world in which they lived.
This changed with the advent of radiocarbon dating, invented by Willard “Scooter” Libby in 1949 at the University of Chicago (go USA!). Radiocarbon dating allows us to find the age of organic compounds by measuring the carbon 14 content, a radioactive isotope of carbon with a well-known half life and decay rate.
Now, scientists post results from their carbon dating to the Internet, giving us Internet Dating. The exact process of Internet Dating begins when someone says, “hey, do you know how old _____ is?” A friend then goes onto the computer, searches it on the Internet, likely ends up clicking on a Wikipedia page, and finds the answer.
Though Internet dating’s contribution to society is that it makes dating accessible to everybody, it has its disadvantages. For example, sources on the Internet may not all be trustworthy. It can at times be difficult to distinguish between a radiocarbon dating expert and a nutball when both have poor Internet publishing skills. Additionally, with more accessible information comes a greater risk of the abuse of what we in the science community call “bullshitting.” This occurs when somebody takes a number such as a date out of context and pretends to know a lot about it, making bad extrapolations.
If you participate in Internet dating, make sure you know what you’re getting into, and don’t let the convenience of the Internet be an excuse to not deploy methods of “real” dating.