Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Scientists worry about some risks more than the public

Scheufele, Dietram A.

Journal Information:
Nature Nanotechnology
Vol. 2, Num. 12


This article summarizes recent research conducted, concerning how researchers, scientists, and members of the general public perceive nanotechnology, and the potential benefits and risks which this technology poses to society. These surveys reveal that nanoscientists are more optimistic than the general public about the potential which nanotechnology has to create positive social change in the fields of medicine, national defense, and efforts to preserve and protect the environment. The public, by contrast, were more concerned than nanoscientists with nanotechnology's potential to adversely effect the economy, or to lead to a lack of privacy and an infringement of civil rights. Yet when it came to issues surrounding the potentially negative long-term impacts which nanotechnology might have on human health and the environment, nanoscientists expressed more concern about nanotechnology having adverse consequences than members of the general public. This is unusual, the articles authors note, as in the cases of most new technologies, scientists directly involved in their development express fewer, rather than more, concerns about them than the general public does.