Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Ministry for the DIllards: Saving El Salvador from Gangs- Part Two

I'll admit it: SOS Ministries scares me.

I've read through Carissa's blog post about her trip and I've read through all of SOS's online mission trip information.  SOS Ministries is playing a dangerous game that is likely to hurt the local populations they allege to serve and the volunteers they bring on the trips.

Let's start with the potential dangers to volunteers. If you sign up for a short-term mission trip through SOS, you will be sent to El Salvador like the Duggars were.    The website has a PDF file for applications.

The application has

  • One page of basic personal information 
  • One page of writing about your credentials as a Christian
  • One page where you write your testimony
  • One page describing how to write a testimony....
  • A health release for minors
  • A medical release for adults
  • Emergency contact information.
I'm going to hazard a guess that the real driving force to determine who goes on the trips is the ability of the person to raise the cash involved.  A two-week trip would cost $950 not including airfare or incidentals.  I've never flown to El Salvador, but some basic research showed that it would cost me around $600 for a round-trip economy class seat from Michigan.  I could knock the cost down slightly by driving to Chicago, but I would end up paying the difference in gas.  That's $1550 per person so far.

They have a mission trip handbook posted as well.  I've read something like this before when I traveled with a youth group for a mission trip.  What worries me is that our mission trip was to Beaver Island, Michigan to help a small, elderly congregation of a Christian denomination with various projects at the church and in the community that they couldn't physically do.  In other words, grunt work well suited for high schoolers in a location where the worst illness you could get is giardia - and only if you drank water right from a stream and had bad luck.

My health concerns:
  • SOS Ministry recommend tetanus and Hepatitis A shots.  The CDC recommends those plus Hepatitis B if there is any chance of accidental injury and typhoid if you are staying in homes.  The ministry doesn't require any proof of the recommended vaccinations or even proof of being up-to-date on the standard MMR, DTAP,  chickenpox or polio.   In other words, you could end up getting very sick from this trip from preventable diseases carried by other volunteers.
  • SOS Ministry mentions bringing bug spray.   Malaria is not currently an issue in El Salvador, but dengue fever is endemic and currently experiencing a spike.  If the travelers are not careful, they could end up very ill. 
  • SOS Ministry recommends bringing diarrheal medication but "no special medicines" are required.  The CDC, on the other hand, recommends talking with a doctor about carrying antibiotics to treat traveler's diarrhea.  A prudent traveler would also think about oral rehydration therapy powders since even healthy adults can get bad dehydration quickly during a bout of bacterial diarrhea.
My cost concerns:  
  • Passports are $110 dollars for people over 16 years old and $80 for people under 16 years old.
  • The cost of traveler's vaccines from the Health Department in my area is 
    • Consult for an individual is $55.00 or $75.00 for a family of two or more people.
    • A DTaP shot is $58 dollars.
    • A Hep A shot is $56 dollars.  A Hep B shot is $62 dollars.  You can get both in a single vaccine for $86 dollars.
    • Typhoid is $66 dollars for the oral vaccine or $78 dollars for an injection.
    • Total additional costs: $0 (if they got the Hep A/Hep B series, are up to date on Tetanus, and don't know about typhoid) - $277 (needs one of all the vaccines).
  • Cost of treated bed mosquito netting if you don't like the idea of getting dengue: $30.00.
  • Cost of prescription for Ciprofloxacin 500mg for 3 days between $4-10.00
  • Cost of having a cell phone in El Salvador: $40.00 with no data for 100 minutes.  Going over 100 minutes is 0.25 cents a minute instead of $1.79. 
  • An unknown amount of cash needed for "love offerings" and "emergency needs that frequently come up during mission trips".  I have no idea what that means, but I would want at least $200 in cash and some form of credit if I was an adult traveling there.  (Side note: If I were running a trip, I'd add an additional $50-100 per person to put aside for emergencies/gifts to staff and tell the volunteers to bring no more than $50.00.  I don't want my volunteers to become marks.)
  • Each traveler is supposed to bring one-half a suitcase of their personal belongings and 1.5 suitcases full of "ministry" materials that they purchase out of pocket.  This includes medicine/hygiene items, Bibles, shoes, clothing for give-aways, and toys for children.  Ignoring my feelings about four of these categories (next post, Mel...breathe.....breathe......) , that's a whole lot of items to purchase.  Conservatively, I'd guess I would need $200 of used clothing to fill a duffel bag or $400 of Dollar General medications for my low and high estimates.
  • Grand Total: $1840  to $2,591 with the low end being an experienced traveler with up-to-date vaccinations and the high end being a first-trip adult.
My safety concerns:
  • The State Department has had a travel warning up for El Salvador since at least  2014.  Between 2010-2014, thirty-four US citizens have been murdered in El Salvador.  (In a semi-comforting note, the State Department points out that US citizens aren't being targeted per se; El Salvador is simply extremely dangerous. Yay? )
  • I would strongly urge anyone traveling to El Salvador to register their trip with the State Department.   El Salvador could easily become unstable at any point; if it does, the US government needs to know where you are to get you out.  If the USA doesn't know you are in the country, they can't get you out as quickly.
  • SOS Ministries says they have health staff in El Salvador.  What exactly does that mean?  Do the leaders of the trip have complete traveler's kit or should I be sourcing Epi-Pens and suture kits with my doctor?
  • How dangerous are the gangs in the area?  Carrisa's blog has conflicting reports.  The gangs want to end the cycle of violence and are willing to stay out of a community center so the kids can have somewhere to go.  That's a good sign and means that the local area is probably pretty stable.  On the flip side, her second blog post makes it sound like they were under government protection and wild pre-teens would have slaughtered them all if the local gang leaders hadn't protected them.  (Yes, often young gang members want to show that they are hard enough by hurting or killing someone.  They usually target OTHER young gang members - not unarmed tourists doing daft skits.) IMHO, Mike - the leader of the ministry - was overstating the danger since the locals look very relaxed and are letting their children roam freely.  On the other hand, if Mike is horrible at reading local conditions he might be leading the volunteers into genuinely dangerous areas.

What could $2000 do?

  • Pay for two sheep, four goats, one heifer,two llamas & one community animal health worker through Heifer International.
  • Fund $24,000 worth of school supplies (thanks to corporate donations) through World Vision

New Ministry for the DIllards: Saving El Salvador from Gangs- Part One

Jill and Derick Dillard have headed back down to El Salvador and mentioned in passing some of their prayer requests:

Please keep the following prayer needs in mind as you go before the Father:
• That the political instability and violence of the region would be such that we could make the transition effectively.
• National and local elections – that God would put authorities in place who would honor the Word of God and His people
• Prison and gang ministry. Many of the men in Central America are in custody for gang involvement, leaving the gangs themselves as the primary influence of many children, especially young boys, who, sadly, tend to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. By God’s grace and the prayers and fasting of his people, this deadly cycle can be broken and this land healed.
I'm going to assume that the first bullet point is a poor grammatical construction.  I suspect the Dillards want us to pray that the country has little or no political instability or violence rather than descends into chaos.  (My husband isn't as optimistic as I am on that point....)
The bullet point about "Prison and Gang Ministry" gave me chills.  Do the Dillards understand what they are getting into?  No.  They can't.  Presumably, they have the laughably naive beliefs espoused by Clarissa on her blog which essentially run that Good Christians (TM) will suddenly realize that gangs are evil, magically reject gangs, and everyone will be happy forever after.

It's none so simple. 
First big idea: The USA's history of nation building in Latin America is horrifying.
In the 1980's, El Salvador was on the verge of a civil war.  The US government was terrified that communism would take hold in Latin America. The United States supported the Salvadoran government who eventually destroyed the opposition while destroying the country.  In a country of 5.3 million people, 80,000 were killed and over 500,000 were refugees by 1990.  (One of the murdered people is somewhat known in the USA: Archbishop Oscar Romero.)  Some refugees tried to get into the USA as refugees; most were denied legal entry.  Without a legal way to enter the country, many crossed over as illegal immigrants.  While in the USA, some of the disenfranchised young men who had seen horrific violence in their home country became gang members in established US gangs like the 18th Street Gang (or Barrio-18). Others joined M-13 which was a gang created to protect Salvadorans from other American gangs.  These gang members were caught for a variety of crimes and deported.   In doing so, the USA managed to export two extremely violent gangs (Barrio-18 and M-13) while allowing the government to massacre civilians.
Second big idea: Nothing about gang life is simple.
I haven't talked about my teaching experiences much on my blog.  I have a lot of positive memories, but I also have bad memories.  I started teaching when I was about 25. My first teaching job involved working with students who were actively involved in gangs.  Here are some things I learned quickly:
  • You are exposed to gangs your entire life.  More than once, I saw a cutely arranged picture of younger siblings of students dressed up in play clothes.  The boys were dressed in the gang's color - like their fathers and brothers - and throwing gang signs.
  • If you are male and live in an area with gangs, you have two choices: join a gang and have protection from other gangs OR be a potential victim of all the gangs.
  • Schools were safe zones because the gangs decided that the publicity of school violence was bad for business - but teenagers don't always obey gang rules.
  • Getting out of a gang is hard - but not for the reasons most people assume.  
    • See, your entire family are probably members of the same gang.  If a relative is hurt by another gang, you will be expected to enforce retribution.  If you don't, your entire family is at risk.  
    • For a lot of my students, the gang WAS their family.  They didn't have anything like an intact family; hell, most of them had been in and out of foster-care and various relatives homes for years.  Being in a gang gave them a sense of purpose, belonging and safety that was missing from everywhere else in the world.
What does this look like in Western Michigan?  Here are a few stories with names and identifying details changed:
  • Darius was a young teenager who liked to talk trash - to everyone.  Seriously, the kid never stopped picking at other students.  In the classroom, he was pretty easy to keep quiet - he wasn't a defiant kid by a long shot - but he'd start jabbering away within seconds of the end of class.  Darius was in my classroom one day when another teen who I'd never seen walked in the room.  The other teen grabs Darius and starts beating the crap out of him.  The other teen had several inches of height and probably 30 pounds on Darius.  Another student, Marcus, jumps up and starts fighting the other teenager which gives Darius a chance to move to safety.  Marcus and the other teen were pretty evenly matched and exchange a few body blows before my principal who was in the nearby room comes in and separates the two of them. (The entire fight happened in less time than it took me to write that paragraph.  Thankfully, no one was armed.)  Long convoluted story short: "Other teen" was snuck into the building by a fellow gang member to beat up Darius because Darius was picking on "other teen's" girlfriend.  Darius would have gotten the crap beat out of him if Marcus hadn't intervened.  Why did Marcus intervene?  Marcus and Darius were in the same gang.
  • Jack was a young man I met at that same school a few years later.  He was a slightly older student who had a little girl in OH he doted on.  He's show me new pictures of her frequently.  Jack was also set up to join the military when he graduated.  Since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were at their peak, I was very worried.  One day, I asked Jack if he was aware of how dangerous Iraq and Afghanistan were.  Jack looked at me and said, "Miss, I know they are both dangerous and that I could die there.  I also know that if I go back to Ohio I will be dead within two years because I'll get dragged back into the gangs.  The way I see it, if I die in the Army, at least I die in a way that my little girl can be proud of me - as a man."  I know Jack made it into the Army and I hope he's still alive.
  • Lamont was a fast-talking freshman.  He struggled a bit in school because his reading level was low and he enjoyed running with the gangs. He was there every day while he was on probation and surveillance; his attendance slipped when he got off probation and eventually he dropped out at age 16.    One day, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got shot in the head with an injury similar to Kathy Giffords.  He's now paralyzed and has the mental skills of a two-year old.  I doubt he'll live to see 30.
  • In one of my first years of teaching, I had a male student named Luis.  He didn't talk much and was always watching the room like he expected something bad to happen.  Luis was also freaking brilliant.  I gave students a chance to test out of courses by exam.  He sat and passed a freshman level Physical Science course and a Biology course. We developed a cordial relationship in part because he had a dark sense of humor and so do I.  He was involved in a local gang and I thought he might be doing drugs. I had asked him if he was doing drugs and he swore he wasn't.  Honestly, I didn't believe him, but he seemed touched that I asked.   He passed my chemistry class without being in class most of the time, then dropped out.  It turns out  I was partially right; he wasn't doing drugs.  He was dealing drugs.  Luis was shot and killed by a potential client according to the police.  The word around school was that the murder was organized by a different gang.  Either way, he was 18 when he died.   

This is in a fairly prosperous area of the USA.  If gang life is this hard here, how much harder is it in El Salvador?
Third main idea:  Badly acted skits by sheltered gringos will not stop gangs.

In the Dillard's photo page, there's a picture of Derick participating in what looks an awful lot like the "Things that Separate Us from Jesus" skit mentioned in Clarissa's blog.  (Both of them have a person wearing the "Scream" costume minus the mask surrounded by poorly staged white people with Hispanic people watching from a safe distance....)

Bluntly, SOS Ministries could be doing these skits anywhere in the USA.  If accepting Jesus is all you need to avoid gangs, why aren't they doing this in Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing, Chicago or anywhere stateside?

  • They aren't doing them because they would be laughed out of their venue. (Seriously.  My students - even the kids from far less rough backgrounds from later in my career - would have been in tears because they were laughing so hard.)  
  •  They aren't doing it because they would be rejected by people living in the areas as amateurs.  Badly acted skits are age-appropriate for junior high students and acceptable (although sub-par) in high school students.  Jill and Derick are in their twenties.  Doing a crappy skit won't win souls for Jesus; you'll simply provide a few minutes of free entertainment while destroying any credibility you had.
  • They aren't doing it because the community members who are trying to change lives would call them out as the dilettantes they are.  In the US, someone would have a sit-down talk with Derick and Jill about their lack of suitable training in education, ministry, health care or infrastructure and give them the options of getting more training or getting out of the way.  (In English.) 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mythical Creation Science: Doesn't Carbon-14 Disprove the Bible? Part 2

In the previous post in this series, I gave a lengthy, but hopefully accessible overview of how radioactive dating work using carbon-14 dating (also referred to as radiocarbon dating).

At the end, I pointed out two scientific and mathematic points that YEC supporters neglect to bring up:
1) In YEC, the earth is 6,000 years old.  This means that all radiocarbon dating should give us an age of 1.04 half-lives or less.  (Because I'm sporting, I'll spot them 1,100 years and extend the half-life limit to 1.25 half-lives or 7,143 years and 9 months.)

2) The ratio of C-14 to C-12 in the atmosphere right now is 1 C-14 atom for every 1,000,000,000 C-12 atoms or 1 C-14: 1 trillion C-12 atoms.  To "fake" or "miscalculate" a half-life of 85,000 years, the ratio of C-14: C-12 needs to drop to 1 C-14 atom for every 32,768,000,000,000 C-12 atoms.   That mean we (real scientists) are off by 16,383 times the number of C-12 or C-14 atoms now.

This is what Riddle actually needs to prove.  Let's see what he decides to bring to the table.

Objection One: If the ratio of C-14:C-12 was different in that past, this would make radiocarbon dating inaccurate.

Reply:  Yes.  It does.  That's why scientists have been using calibration curves since 1967.

 See, the papers that Riddle is citing for radiocarbon dating dates from 1952.  When we first used radiocarbon dating, scientists assumed the ratio remained constant because they had no way of measuring or correcting for it.

Scientists then did a neat trick: Egypt has a very long and fairly accurate timeline of artifacts.  Scientists started running radiocarbon dating on Egyptian artifacts of known ages.  As the artifact got older, the radiocarbon date started getting less accurate.  This was a problem: was the ratio of C-14:C-12 changing over time or did we have the wrong dates on the artifacts?

Scientists did another neat trick: Did you know that tree rings are very easy to date and only add carbon to the new growth ring of the year?  (I knew that, but never thought to radiocarbon date them as a solution to the problem.)  When you run radiocarbon dates year by year, the amount of C-12:C-14 changes. Because of that, scientists have made calibration curves that take into effect the changes over time.  I keep saying "curves" because the ratios changes between the north and south hemispheres - remember, the growing seasons are offset by 6 months - and a separate marine calibration curve.

Objection Two: The magnetic field is getting weaker over time.  This means that less cosmic rays reached the atmosphere to produce C-14 in the past.

Reply: Short answer: That's why we have calibration curves.  (Did I mention the last revision was published in 2013?  We keep updating them.)

Longer answer: The magnetic field is changing over time.  Recently, it's gotten weaker.  During other times, the magnetic field was much stronger.  Of course, the magnetic field of the Earth has also reversed itself so the magnetic pole that we call "north" was located near the south pole and vice versa.   We can prove this by looking at the magnetic field of rocks recovered from the mid-oceanic rift zone in the Atlantic ocean.  

Plus, the amount of comsic rays that hit the Earth isn't constant. You really should bring that up because I get to say "calibration curves!" again.

The total magnitude of change from the highest recorded magnitism to the lowest recorded magnitism is a power of 10. For the C-14 production rate to drop enough that a piece of wood that died on the first YEC day (wait....nothing died that day in YEC) the first day after the Fall now appears to be 85,000 years old due to mixed up ratio, the C-14 needs to drop by a power of 16,383.

You'll need to flesh that hypothesis out a bit more.  Fair warning: NASA is really into cosmic ray research right now so don't go too deep into science fiction without checking their publications,.

 Did I mention calibration curves?  We can also use other living things that have longer yearly patterns like diatoms preserved in fossilized lake beds - lake beds show distinct yearly changes like tree rings.

Objection Three: Lots of animals and plants died during the Genesis Flood and were buried.  This would mess up the C-14:C-12 ratio.

Short answer: Nope.  The animals and plants would have the exact same ratio of C-14:C12 as the atmosphere when they died.  Now, if the C-14:C-12 ratio was different, we'd correct for that using..the calibration curves!  But the death of the plants and animals, by themselves, wouldn't actually change the ratio in the atmosphere.

Longer answer: Still nope, but you forgot a point.  We've been buring that buried carbons as fossil fuels and releasing it back into the atmosphere.  That has caused the C-14:C-12 ratios to change.  How do scientists deal with that?  Math.  You use the....calibration curves!!!

*does the calibration curve dance*

Objection Four: A bunch of creation scientists got together and tested really old samples of wood and limestone and other things.  Since the scientists' efforts found C-14 in the samples, the whole thing must be flawed!

Reply:  Did their findings support a Earth that is 7,000 years old or younger?   Oh, noes.

Well, the paper the book cited was not a real scientific paper.  It was published without peer review, failed to name the lab at which the AMS radiocarbon dating occured, failed to give detailed procurement records for the coal samples tested, doesn't give an author contact, and still managed to only have an earliest date of 50,000 years ago.    That's 8.7 half-lives, not 1.25.

That's all.  Radiocarbon data wins.

*dances the calibration curve dance of happiness*

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mythical Creation Science: Doesn't Carbon-14 Dating Disprove the Bible? Part 1

Welcome back to the crazy world of young-Earth creationism.

Today, we cover chapter 7 of The New Answers Book One by Ken Ham.  This chapter tries to disprove carbon-14 dating in specific and radioactive dating in general.  The author of this chapter - Mike Riddle - and I agree on one thing: a basic overview or review of atomic structure is needed.

Let's start at the outside of a carbon atom.  As we approach the atom, will first enter the outer shell of electrons.  In carbon, the outer shell has four electrons.  In the most recent understanding of atomic structure, scientists know that electrons are found within a certain three-dimensional area but are not stuck in tracks as the more traditional Bohr model.

As we move in past the outer electrons, we move into the inner electron shell that has two electrons in it.

In the majority of chemistry, we'd spend more time talking about the electrons because they are the basis of most chemistry.  Since YEC has decided to take on nuclear chemistry, all we need to remember is that electrons are very small compared to protons and neutrons and electrons are negatively charged.

Moving into the nucleus, we see two different particles in the nucleus.  Protons are positively charged.  Neutrons have a neutral charge.  In terms of mass, one proton or one neutron has the same mass as over 2,000 electrons.  Each element is determined by the number of protons.  All carbon atoms have six protons.  Each (with a few exceptions) element can have differing number of neutrons.  Carbon can have six neutrons, seven neutrons or eight neutrons.

We determine the mass of each atom by adding up the total number of protons and neutrons.  We use the term "isotope" to describe atoms of the same element that have different number of neutrons.

The diagram above is of carbon-12.  You can tell it's carbon because there are six protons. The "12" means there are a total of twelve protons and neutrons.   Carbon-12 is the most common type of carbon atom; 99% of carbon atoms are carbon-12.

See if you can figure out the mass of the next diagram:

It's carbon-14.  Carbon-14 is very rare and makes up a tiny percentage of total carbon atoms.

What about this diagram?
Yup, this is carbon-13.  Carbon-13 makes up a little under 1% of the the total carbon engines.

Why is carbon-14 so rare?  Carbon-14 is very unstable.  Carbon-14 will undergo radioactive decay and change into nitrogen-14.  Here's how it works: Let's zoom in close to a neutron.

Much to my surprise when I learned this, a neutron is actually a proton with a single electron tightly bound to it.   The electron is so tiny that it doesn't affect the mass of the neutron.   In radioactive decay,  the bond between the electron and proton that makes up a neutron breaks.  The electron is thrown free of the atom and the proton stays.

Long story short:  Carbon-14 has a neutron split into a proton and an electron.  The electron is lost, a massive amount of energy is released, and the atom becomes nitrogen-14 because it now has 7 protons and 7 neutrons.

How do scientists use carbon-14 to date objects?
Carbon-14 dating is only used on formerly living items like wood or a fossil.  (This is an important point that Riddle mentions in passing, then violates over and over again.)  When an organism is alive, carbon is being added to the organism through photosynthesis or through eating food.  The ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the body is equal to the ratio of the two isotopes of carbon in the atmosphere.  For simpicity's sake, I'm going to follow Riddle's lead and say that the ratio is one carbon-14 atom for every 1,000,000,000 (trillion) carbon-12 atoms.  Once the organism dies, the carbon-14 decays while the carbon-12 is unchanged.  

We know the rate at which carbon-14 decays into nitrogen-14.  In any sample of carbon-14, approximately half of the carbon-14 atoms will decay into nitrogen-14 in 5715 years.  This means that the half-life of carbon-14 is 5715 years.

 Since there isn't any way of knowing exactly how many carbon-14 atoms started in the sample that is being dated, scientist make a ratio of the amount of carbon-14 to the amount of carbon-12.  By comparing the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in  the fossil to the ratio in the atmosphere, you can get an accurate date since the death of the organism. 

Let's run through a scenario.  An oak tree is blown down in a storm.  What would we expect to see (theoretically) if we could count the C-14 and C-12 atoms at 0 half-lives?  We would see that none of the C-14 has had time to decay, so we could count all of the C-14 atoms.  The C-12 atoms are all intact, so we could count all of those and we would find that the ratio of C-14 to C-12 is about 1 to 1 trillion.

I'm going to start a table - very similar to one in The New Answers - so we can keep track of the changes over time.

We return 5715 years later and take another sample from the oak tree at one half-life.  Half of the C-14 atoms have decayed into N-14 and don't show up in our count.  All of the C-12 atoms are still present.  The ratio of C-14 to C-12 atoms is now 1 for every 2 trillion atoms which is half as small as the original.  Let me jot that down.

We come back in another 5715 years and repeat.  Another 50% of the C-14 atoms have decayed so only 25% of the original C-14 is left.  Since the C-12 is still unchanged, the ratio of C-14 to C-12 is now 1 C-14 atom for every 4 trillion C-12 atoms.

We come back every 5715 years.  The amount of C-14 drops by half each time.  The amount of C-12 is constant (unchanging), so the ratio of C-14 to C-12 drops by half each time.

If you are more of a visual person, here's a graph of the percentage remaining C-14 per half-life.  (Mathy nerd side note: The "Percentage C-14 remaining" axis should actually be asymptotic which means it should approach 100% but never touch it.  This is because C-14 atoms always have a small probablility of decaying into N-14 at any moment in time.  Because of that, you can't get a pure 100% sample of C-14.  I feel better.)

This is where Riddle stops giving explanations and starts shooting holes in C-14 dating.  I'll debunk his mistruths in the next post, but I want to show you why he stops at 5 half-lives instead of 10 or 15 or 20.

Here's the table expanded out to 15 half-lives. 
 Notice that there is a natural stopping point at 14-15 half-lives:  The ratio of C-14 to C-12 at 15 half lives is 1 atom of C-14 for every 32,768,000,000,000 atoms of C-12.  The atoms of C-14 aren't completely gone; in fact, statistically there will always be a few C-14 atoms floating around.  The problem is that trying to get a good signal on the C-14 atoms is impossible.  

For the visual folks:
(Mathy nerd bit 2: The "Number of Half-Lives" axis is also asymptoic.  It will never hit zero because cosmic rays and radiation from nearby atoms can cause a small number of N-14 atoms to change into C-14.)

The fast way to prove Riddle wrong: If YEC is true, C-14 dating shouldn't work at all. 
1) If YEC is true, carbon-14 dating of any organic fossil should give us a half-life of 1.2 or less.
A picture helps:

The red line is slightly over 7,000 years.  If YEC is true, nothing can give us a date of over 7,000 years or 1.2 C-14 half-lives.    Oddly enough, Riddle NEVER brings this point up.  Ever.  

2) For YEC to be true, the C-14 dates must be off by a magnitude of 16,384 times.

In other words, when Riddle starts poking holes, the answer must be able to cause the YEC ratio of 1 atom of C-14 to 2 trillion atoms of C-12 to somehow appear as 1 atom of C-14 to 32,768 trillion atoms.  A different way of saying it: YEC is arguing that every atom of C-14 we see in a 85,000 year old fossil is off by 16,383 atoms of C-14.  

Good luck with that.