Public Perception of Nanotechnology is Largely Undecided

Despite seemingly relentless attempts to make nanotechnology the next asbestos or Frankenstein food, it seems the public just will not be swayed one way or another on the subject of whether it is beneficial or risky.

According to a recent study, "Anticipating the perceived risk of nanotechnologies" — that will appear online Sept. 20 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, it seems that 44% of the people surveyed don’t have an opinion about nanotechnology one way or another.

This result reportedly surprised the researchers, some of who commented, "You don't normally get that reluctance." You certainly don’t. People typically feel compelled to voice their opinions on any range of subjects they know virtually nothing about.

But nanotechnology has managed to avoid the typical knee-jerk reaction brought on by your by-the-book scare tactics. I think this may have to do more with the utter apathy people feel towards learning the subject than some kind of hopeful trend that the human race is becoming more circumspect.

So the fear mongers should not walk away with bowed heads, half-informed ignorance could still win the day.



IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain