Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Religion colors Americans' views of nanotechnology

Abstract:
Is nanotechnology morally acceptable?

Religion colors Americans' views of nanotechnology

Madison, WI | Posted on February 16th, 2008

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.

The survey was undertaken in the summer of 2007 by the UW-Madison Survey Center and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

####

About University of Wisconsin-Madison
UW–Madison ranks as one of the most prolific research universities in the world, placing third among American public universities for research expenditures. Driven by a desire to both explore new worlds and to apply new ideas to real-world problems, research at UW–Madison isn't conducted only by faculty, staff and graduate students. Undergraduate research opportunities also are fostered, making research a truly campuswide enterprise.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Dietram Scheufele
(608) 262-1614


Terry Devitt
(608) 262-8282

Copyright © University of Wisconsin-Madison

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

GrapheneCanada 2016 International Conference: Recent advances in technology developments and business opportunities in graphene commercialization August 31st, 2016

FEI Celebrates Shipment of 1,000th Helios DualBeam System: FEI’s Helios Family has lead the DualBeam technology race and is widely used across the semiconductor, materials science, life sciences and oil & gas industries August 31st, 2016

Colors from darkness: Researchers develop alternative approach to quantum computing August 31st, 2016

Diamonds and quantum information processing on the nano scale August 31st, 2016

Announcements

GrapheneCanada 2016 International Conference: Recent advances in technology developments and business opportunities in graphene commercialization August 31st, 2016

FEI Celebrates Shipment of 1,000th Helios DualBeam System: FEI’s Helios Family has lead the DualBeam technology race and is widely used across the semiconductor, materials science, life sciences and oil & gas industries August 31st, 2016

Colors from darkness: Researchers develop alternative approach to quantum computing August 31st, 2016

Diamonds and quantum information processing on the nano scale August 31st, 2016

Human Interest/Art

Weizmann Institute of Science Presents: Weizmann Wonder Wander - 4G - is Online June 21st, 2016

Call for NanoArt and Art-Science-Technology Papers June 9th, 2016

Scientists propose non-animal tools for assessing the toxicity of nanomaterials: Particle and Fibre Toxicology publishes recommendations from expert group meeting April 26th, 2016

Are humans the new supercomputer?Today, people of all backgrounds can contribute to solving serious scientific problems by playing computer games. A Danish research group has extended the limits of quantum physics calculations and simultaneously blurred the boundaries between mac April 14th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic