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Friday, February 22, 2008

Religious Attitudes Toward Nanotech

A significant majority of Americans find the use of nanotechnology to be immoral, according to a survey conducted by Dietram Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleague Elizabeth Corley of Arizona State University. Only 29.5 percent of the 1,015 American adults sampled for the survey said they think the applications of nanotechnology are morally acceptable. Yet, when the same survey was conducted in Europe, researchers found the majority of people are in favor of the technology. The rejection of nanotechnology in America seems to come from the country's strong religious history and not from a lack of knowledge regarding the technology. Scheufele found that many with strong religious convictions were well-informed on the subject, but still considered nanotechnology, along with biotechnology and stem cell research, as a way for researchers to "play God." Attitudes are different and distinct from understanding, and researchers should keep these results in mind when thinking about how to frame a new technology and its applications to the American public. —Stephen Mapes