Azara Blog: An alleged correlation between religion and anti-nanotechnology views

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Date published: 2008/12/08

The BBC says:

Attitudes to nanotechnology may be determined by religious and cultural beliefs, suggest researchers writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

They say religious people tend to view nanotechnology in a negative light.

The researchers compared attitudes in Europe and the US and looked at religious and cultural backgrounds.

They say the findings have implications for scientists and politicians making policy decisions to regulate the use of nanotechnology.

This is a classic case of confusing correlation and causation. All they have found is a correlation between "religious and cultural beliefs" and views on nanotechnology (and that's assuming the survey was sensible, which it might well not have been). They have not found a causation and so the use of the word "determined" is bogus. There are no doubt a zillion and one things that correlate well with views on nanotechnology. Why focus on this one? Because the researchers have a political premise to spin. And is it just nanotechnology or pretty much all modern technology, that these people don't like? And did they label people with strong environmental views as being religious? Because in the UK it is the so-called environmentalists who are most opposed to nanotechnology. But environmentalism should indeed be viewed as a form of religion, so that is consistent with the correlation that the researchers have found. Anyway, why is this kind of pointless research being funded?

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