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The Sciences

Fear of a nanotech planet?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanDecember 9, 2008 12:17 PM

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David Kirkpatrick points me to some interesting new research, Religious beliefs and public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe and the United States:

...Recent research suggests that 'religious filters' are an important heuristic for scientific issues in general5, and nanotechnology in particular6. A religious filter is more than a simple correlation between religiosity and attitudes toward science: it refers to a link between benefit perceptions and attitudes that varies depending on respondents' levels of religiosity. In surveys, seeing the benefits of nanotechnology is consistently linked to more positive attitudes about nanotechnology among less religious respondents, with this effect being significantly weaker for more religious respondents6. For this study, we have combined public opinion surveys in the United States with Eurobarometer surveys about public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe to compare the influence of religious beliefs on attitudes towards nanotechnology in the United States and Europe. Our results show that respondents in the United States were significantly less likely to agree that nanotechnology is morally acceptable than respondents in many European countries. These moral views correlated directly with aggregate levels of religiosity in each country, even after controlling for national research productivity and measures of science performance for high-school students.

As someone suspicious of non-religious, but New Age Gaia-worshiping, anti-science, I am generally surprised as to how thin it is on the ground. Though do note that Americans are more supportive of GMOs than Europeans....

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