Navigation Links
Religion colors Americans' views of nanotechnology
Date:2/15/2008

MADISON -- Is nanotechnology morally acceptable?

For a significant percentage of Americans, the answer is no, according to a recent survey of Americans' attitudes about the science of the very small.

Addressing scientists here today (Feb. 15, 2008) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication, presented new survey results that show religion exerts far more influence on public views of technology in the United States than in Europe.

"Our data show a much lower percentage of people who agree that nanotechnology is morally acceptable in the U.S. than in Europe," says Scheufele, an expert on public opinion and science and technology.

Nanotechnology is a branch of science and engineering devoted to the design and production of materials, structures, devices and circuits at the smallest achievable scale, typically in the realm of individual atoms and molecules. The ability to engineer matter at that scale has the potential to produce a vast array of new technologies that could influence everything from computers to medicine. Already, dozens of products containing nanoscale materials or devices are on the market.

In a sample of 1,015 adult Americans, only 29.5 percent of respondents agreed that nanotechnology was morally acceptable.

In European surveys that posed identical questions about nanotechnology to people in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, significantly higher percentages of people accepted the moral validity of the technology. In the United Kingdom, 54.1 percent found nanotechnology to be morally acceptable. In Germany, 62.7 percent had no moral qualms about nanotechnology, and in France 72.1 percent of survey respondents saw no problems with the technology.

"There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe, in terms of attitudes toward nanotechnology," says Scheufele.

Why the big difference?

The answer, Scheufele believes, is religion: "The United States is a country where religion plays an important role in peoples' lives. The importance of religion in these different countries that shows up in data set after data set parallels exactly the differences we're seeing in terms of moral views. European countries have a much more secular perspective."

The catch for Americans with strong religious convictions, Scheufele believes, is that nanotechnology, biotechnology and stem cell research are lumped together as means to enhance human qualities. In short, researchers are viewed as "playing God" when they create materials that do not occur in nature, especially where nanotechnology and biotechnology intertwine, says Scheufele.

He conducted the U.S. survey with Arizona State University (ASU) colleague Elizabeth Corley under the auspices of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU.

The moral qualms people of faith express about nanotechnology is not a question of ignorance of the technology, says Scheufele, explaining that survey respondents are well-informed about nanotechnology and its potential benefits.

"They still oppose it," he says. "They are rejecting it based on religious beliefs. The issue isn't about informing these people. They are informed."

The new study has critical implications for how experts explain the technology and its applications, Scheufele says. It means the scientific community needs to do a far better job of placing the technology in context and in understanding the attitudes of the American public.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dietram Scheufele
scheufele@wisc.edu
608-262-1614
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. AUDIO from Medialink and Pfizer: Hispanic Heritage Month Reminds Us Increasing Numbers of Hispanic-Americans Do Not Have Health Insurance
2. Actress Aida Turturro Tells Americans to Start Now to Talk With Their Healthcare Provider About Taking Control of Their Diabetes
3. New Executive Market Summaries Offer Concise Disease and Treatment Overviews
4. Immunosyn Announces Interview of CEO Stephen D. Ferrone by CEOCFO Interviews & News
5. Stevens to host Nanoscience/Nanotechnology & Corrosion symposium, Nov. 13
6. NASA technology forms the basis for a new nanotechnology company
7. Superbugs, shapes and nanotechnology
8. Siemens and Xintek Form Joint Venture to Develop Nanotechnology-Enabled Multi-Pixel X-ray Tubes
9. Commercialization of nanotechnology
10. National Nanotechnology Initiative releases new strategic plan
11. Nanotechnology innovation may revolutionize gene detection in a single cell
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed ... pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving ... signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or ... of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for ... as WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, ... medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new ... prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, ... Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I ... President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/26/2016)... 27, 2016 Research and ... Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  , ... The analysts forecast the global multimodal biometrics ... during the period 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics ... such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Research and ... Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... , ,The global gait biometrics market is expected ... the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates ... be used to compute factors that are not ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... 2016   LegacyXChange, ... "Company") LegacyXChange is excited to release its ... to be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed ... will also provide potential shareholders a sense of the ... an industry that is notorious for fraud. The video ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):