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Religious Delusion Hampers Nanotechnology

Religious Delusion Hampers Nanotechnology

Addressing scientists 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.

Hmm. Nanotech could most likely cure cancer, extend life, solve the renewable energy dilemma, and lead to drastically reduced poverty, among other things. Guess who’s against it?

That’s right folks, let’s keep life on earth backward and miserable so we can keep focused on that oh-so-precious afterlife.

The idiocracy is in full-swing in the US of A.


Comments (9 comments)

Brandon / February 17th, 2008, 12:46 am / #1

I’m curious to know what the main reason for the unrest is among Xians where it concerns nanotechnology. Is it just that it’s such a new technology with such potentially far-reaching benefits? Is manipulating matter on such a minute scale like playing God to them?

Annette C. / February 17th, 2008, 4:25 am / #2

In some cases nanotechnology and biotechnology combine.

And where you have biotechnology you also have other ethical problems, including animal and human experimentation, rights, experimentation on foetuses.

I’d like to see evidence that the non-supportive 70.5% are of any religious persuasion at all. The article only presents Scheufele’s opinion that they are. Many of the remaining 70.5% may simply be against experiments on humans and animals.

Annette C. / February 17th, 2008, 5:01 am / #3

Also, the original article in the University of Winsconsin News, more soberly titled –

” Study: Religion colors Americans’ views of nanotechnology “, does not inform us that the advance of helpful nanotechnology is in any way “hampered” by these views.

But if you want your title to grab the hits, I guess you need to add the hype!

Alex / February 17th, 2008, 11:15 am / #4

Annette, you seem to have forgotten that the vast majority of funding for any kind of science remains federal grants.

Unpopular technology = lack of funding. The stem cell controversy has done exactly that, any projects that do not use ‘accepted’ stem cell lines aren’t being done in this country. They are being done in others where either controversy has a much lower effect on funding or there is no controversy.

So while it does not state that nanotechnology is ‘hampered’, that it is going to suffer hard times as a direct consequence of the attitude of those 70.5 % of voters, happens to be the logical conclusion

Nanotechnology Morally Unacceptable? | Think Artificial / February 17th, 2008, 3:06 pm / #5

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hthth / February 18th, 2008, 2:51 pm / #6

@Annette

And where you have biotechnology you also have other ethical problems, including animal and human experimentation, rights, experimentation on foetuses.

Note that in Science Daily’s article Scheufele refers to several other studies in which similar differences have been noted:

[…] 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.”

It’s an educated guess from an educated man. But, I would of course prefer to see direct scientific inquiries on the matter.

On the second note of hampering, I second Alex’s response.

Annette C. / February 18th, 2008, 3:47 pm / #7

A couple of potential examples that may have contributed to the fears of the 70.5%:

Up until 2004, Eric Drexler, considered the father of nanotechnology, held the opinion that runaway nanoscale self-replicators, or “grey goo,” could threaten society.
(see http://focus.hms.harvard.edu/2004/July16_2004/nanotech.html)

This sort of label “grey goo” is the type of catch phrase people remember…it does sound a bit like a cheap horror flick.

In the same above mentioned article, a Chair of Engineering explained how patients take the “nano” drug interferon-beta, and it’s impact on quality of life: He said that it works well, but that as it is administered by injection once per week, it has a very high concentration in the blood, causing weakness and pain. “The first 24 hours after it’s taken,” he said, “patients are in hell.”

I guess it is up to the Scientists to enable that wall of fear – that has been erected by the 70.5% of Americans, and possibly inaccurate or biased reporting – to be dismantled.

I think in time as awareness increases and research continues, (funded also by Pharmaceutical Comanies as well as Federal Govt), that acceptance of nanotechnology should increase.

Random Donuts / February 18th, 2008, 5:36 pm / #8

Funny, I just ordered $850 MB Quart car speakers (I know, but my car stereo is like electronic Prozac for me). They’re the first speakers that use nanotechnology. And they could kill us all! Once I modify them in my lab, look out! Speakers of Death!

“QSF’s nano-coatings are molecular ceramic materials produced by shrinking the ceramics to the molecular level, which results in a denser material through an electrodeposition plasma process. The coating with ultra-small ceramic particles (10-9) creates a glass-like surface. The ceramic coated surface is stronger and more-durable than its original form. Reducing the ceramic to a molecular level improves QSF’s nano-coated domes and the speaker cones mechanical properties including material strength, tensile strength, fatigue strength, and elongation resistance.”

Lorenzo’s Blog » Blog Archive » Nanotechnology Morally Unacceptable? / May 18th, 2008, 10:48 am / #9

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