Nanotech culture war in prospect?

A new study suggests that the use and deployment of nanotechnology may be the new frontline in “culture war”, research from the Yale Law School and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies suggests:

The determining factor in how people responded [to information about nanotechnology] was their cultural values, according to Dan Kahan, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor at Yale Law School and lead author of the study. “People who had more individualistic, pro-commerce values, tended to infer that nanotechnology is safe,” said Kahan, “while people who are more worried about economic inequality read the same information as implying that nanotechnology is likely to be dangerous.”

Another study shows religion also plays a part, with citizens of more religious countries being less enthusiastic about nanotechnology than more secular countries:

They found that countries where religious belief was strong, such as Ireland and Italy, tended to be the least accepting of nanotechnology, whereas those where religion was less significant such as Belgium or the Netherlands were more accepting of the technology.

Professor Dietram Scheufele from the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin, who led the research, said religious belief exerted a strong influence on how people viewed nanotechnology.

“Religion provides a perceptual filter, highly religious people look at information differently, it follows from the way religion provides guidance in people’s everyday lives,” he said.

[via Physorg, Boing Boing, the BBC, and Nature Nanotechnology here and here][image from timsnell on flickr]

One thought on “Nanotech culture war in prospect?”

  1. Now I want to see a similar survey that relates these nanotech attitudes to baseline attitudes about technology generally. Are the distributions of attitudes actually specific to nanotech, or is it that more individualistic people who are less worried about inequality are just more pro-tech generally?

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