US's Current Penchant for Theocracy Does Not Bode Well for Nanotechnology

I suppose it should come as no surprise that in a country where three of the initial 10 Republican candidates for President (Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, for those keeping tabs) announced last Spring at an early Presidential debate that they did not believe in evolution, that most Americans reject the morality of nanotechnology on religious grounds.

Dietram Scheufele, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin, conducted a poll of 1,015 adult Americans in which only 29.5% of respondents agreed that nanotechnology was morally acceptable.

When this poll is contrasted against the poll conducted by the Project on Emerging Technologies, which indicated just how ignorant Americans are about nanotechnology, it becomes clear that when one doesnâ''t understand something it becomes a source of fear, and what better foundation to rationalize your fears upon than religion.

But the US seems to have really cornered the market on translating fear of the unknown into religious dogma. In the United Kingdom, 54.1%, in Germany, 62.7%, and in France, 72.1% considered nanotechnology to be morally acceptable.

To be honest, even the European results are a bit strange: morality?! Okay, you might have ethical qualms about nanotechnology being used without its environmental, health and safety issues being clearly determined, but moral?

But Scheufele offers an explanation. The moral question seems to stem from nanotechnology being lumped together with biotechnology and stem cell research in that to the respondentsâ'' minds they are all engaged in enhancing human qualities.

I wonder if these same people have any qualms over vaccinations, say like the polio vaccine.


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