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Can you hear me Nano Tech

Page history last edited by frogheart@... 11 years, 3 months ago

Public opinion and the perception of risk have a huge impact on the regulatory environment and funding for science as well as success in its commercial applications. Correspondingly, the urgency that policy makers, scientists, activists, and business people feel about understanding (hearing) and influencing public opinion regarding an emerging science such as nanotechnology has spawned a new kind of programme.

 

Public engagement or public consultation or public dialogue is becoming a huge industry keeping social scientists and other academics (not to mention event planners) busy. These programmes reassure the general public that their views will be heard and considered by policy makers, give scientists a chance to present their case for continued funding, and afford activists an opportunity to attract more attention to their cause. Business interests tend to be more involved with other aspects of affecting opinion. (For how business how business tries to influence public opinion, from Jump joints, click on Marketers put the buy in nano.) To date (July 2008), there haven't been any nanotechnology public engagement programmes of any note in Canada or the US. More work in this area has been done in Europe.[1]

 

Polls, by themselves or in addition to public engagement programmes, have long been used by policy makers and politicians to determine public opinion and subsequent policy. The polling about nanotechnology in Canada and the US suggests that most people in those countries don't know much about it (as of June 2008).[2][3]

 

Based on the notion that people are influenced by news stories appearing in print, broadcast, and other media, media analysis is another way of determining public awareness. It appears that awareness of nanotechnology risk is slowly rising along with an interest in regulation in the US.[4][5](There are no recent figures for Canada.)

 

The UK nanotechnology risk narrative provides an interesting contrast to what's happening in the US. While the US has experienced a steady rise in interest, the UK experienced something called 'The Prince Charles Effect'[6] when the prince expressed public concern about nanotechnology in 2003. This precipitated 20 risk-oriented articles that year (in 2002, there was one article) and then, in 2004, a British Society investigatory report and 25 risk-oriented articles in their respective samples. Subsequent years have shown a marked decrease in interest (in 2005, 12 articles were published, as per the sample).[7]

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Jump points

Risks

 

Jump joints

Marketers put the buy in nano

Footnotes

  1. Nanologue; Europe-wide dialogue on social, ethical, and legal impacts of nanotechnology (2006) [Online website for 21 month project active March 2, 2005 to Nov. (?) 2006] (Accessed July 30, 2008 from http://www.nanologue.net/index.php?seite=2)
  2. AZoNano.com (Jan. 31, 2007) Public has fairly neutral opinion over nanotechnology. [Online news release] (Accessed January 31, 2007 from http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=3639)
  3. Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (Sept. 25, 2007) Poll reveals public awareness of nanotech stuck at low level. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. [Online news release] (Accessed February 22, 2008 from http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/poll_reveals_public_awareness_nanotech/)
  4. Friedman, S. and Egolf, L. (2006) Reporting the Risks of Nanotechnology in the Media, 2000-2005. [Slide presentation for Online webcast titled: Nanotechnology: The Story Behind the Headlines by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Dec. 13, 2006.] (Accessed January 23, 2008 from http://www.nanotechproject.org/events/archive/nanotechnology_story_behind_headlines/)
  5. Friedman, S. and Egolf, L. (2007) Changing Patterns of Mass Media Coverage of Nanotechnology Risks [Slide presentation for Online webcast titled Nanotechnology & the Media: The Inside Story by Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Dec. 18, 2007.] (Accessed January 23, 2008 from http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event_summary&event_id=343009#)
  6. AZoNano.com (July 12, 2004) The Royal Society Welcomes Prince Charles' Views on Nanotechnology. [Online news release] (Accessed June 12, 2008 from http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=218)
  7. Friedman, S. and Egolf, L. (2006) Reporting the Risks of Nanotechnology in the Media, 2000-2005. [Slide presentation for Online webcast titled: Nanotechnology: The Story Behind the Headlines by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Dec. 13, 2006.] (Accessed January 23, 2008 from http://www.nanotechproject.org/events/archive/nanotechnology_story_behind_headlines/)

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