Hearts and Minds and Nanotechnology
Vol. 4, Num. 3
Toumey does not buy the familiarity hypothesis that holds that the public becomes more positive about nanotechnology as it becomes more informed, if only because it seems likely that those who are informed about the field were already positive enough about it to become so. He then looks at four recent surveys to better understand what the public thinks of nanotechnology and what colors their opinions. He finds that the uses of nanotechnology combine with the cultural preconceptions of the surveyed public to determine their reaction to the benefits and risks of nanotechnology. The crux of the article is that the knowledge of nanotechnology that we may eventually gather in our minds is a weak companion to the strong values and concerns in our hearts, most specifically where religion is concerned. He counsels, then, that nanoscientists should take the values of the public into account if they ever hope to gain its trust and, most importantly, its funding.