The values they assumed were based on the lead isotope ratios observed for three meteorites.
In 1955 a symposium on radiometric dating was held from which the following was given in the summary: “Radioactive ‘dating’ has been perhaps the most widely publicised of geochemical techniques, but of several known dating methods based on radioactivity, only C-14 dating has developed to the point where it yields consistently reliable ages.
It is probably because of this type of evidence for extensive mixing in the alteration zone that Patterson “In view of the evidence for extensive mixing, it would seem contrary to the facts to postulate differing frozen lead/uranium ratios that have existed for billions of years.
The requirements of the assumptions in the lead ore method are so extreme it is unlikely that it should give a correct age.” So they took a different approach.
“This (work) shows unequivocally for the first time that there is indeed a real problem in the uranium/lead evolution in meteorites, in that in each of these meteorites there is now insufficient uranium to support the lead isotope composition.
“It therefore follows that the whole of the classical interpretation of the meteorite lead isotope data is in doubt, and that the radiometric estimates of the age of the Earth are placed in jeopardy.” In plain language, the radiometric estimates for the age of the earth are lacking real foundations.