A survey of 1,015 adult Americans found that only 29.5% of the respondents agreed that nanotechnology was morally acceptable:
Nanotechnology is a branch of science and engineering devoted to the design and production of materials, structures, devices and circuits at the smallest achievable scale, typically in the realm of individual atoms and molecules. The ability to engineer matter at that scale has the potential to produce a vast array of new technologies that could influence everything from computers to medicine. Already, dozens of products containing nanoscale materials or devices are on the market.
In a sample of 1,015 adult Americans, only 29.5 percent of respondents agreed that nanotechnology was morally acceptable.
In European surveys that posed identical questions about nanotechnology to people in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, significantly higher percentages of people accepted the moral validity of the technology. In the United Kingdom, 54.1 percent found nanotechnology to be morally acceptable. In Germany, 62.7 percent had no moral qualms about nanotechnology, and in France 72.1 percent of survey respondents saw no problems with the technology.
"There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe, in terms of attitudes toward nanotechnology," says Scheufele.
Why the big difference?
The answer, Scheufele believes, is religion: "The United States is a country where religion plays an important role in peoples' lives. The importance of religion in these different countries that shows up in data set after data set parallels exactly the differences we're seeing in terms of moral views. European countries have a much more secular perspective."