As a follow-up to last week’s post concerning The New York Times view of nanophobia, I also submit the following article. Nanowerk is reporting on a new study released by Yale University concerning the public opinion as to the safety of nanotechnology after receiving various amounts of information. The study is reported fully in Nature Nanotechnology (pay site).
The Yale study concludes that an individual’s view on how safe nanotechnology is, or isn’t, is based largely on their pre-existing cultural values. As Dan Kahn, lead author, explains, and Nanowerk reports, "People who had more individualistic, pro-commerce values, tended to infer that nanotechnology is safe…while people who are more worried about economic inequality read the same information as implying that nanotechnology is likely to be dangerous." Views on nanotechnology seems to correlate to views on other issues such as global warming. The study goes on to conclude that communication with the public remains important, that perhaps the dialog should account for the existing predispositions of the audience.
Frankly, accounting for the existing views of the audience hearing information on nanotechnology had not previously occurred to me, although it makes sense. Its a matter of communication versus effective communication. While I always try to research an audience before speaking, I’ll now be thinking more critically about how to account for that information in discussions and other presentations.