backtop


Print 87 comment(s) - last by pheffern.. on Mar 16 at 2:24 PM

A one thousand-year-old history lesson awaits those who would deem the cutting edge wicked

Damascus steel was forged using a process of carbon doping iron in a smelting and quenching process.  This steel became famous almost a thousand years ago; it was said a Damascus sword would cut through falling silk, a rock, and then another piece of silk while still keeping its razor sharp edge. 

The ability to make the Damascus steel was lost with the ages.   Blademasters would often take the secret of the forging process to the grave rather than reveal its mysteries. Many were persecuted as heretics, others heralded as deities.

A study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that more than 70% of 1,015 surveyed Americans deem nanotechnology morally repulsive.  Professor Dietram Scheufele attributes this repugnance for technology to American reliance on religion. 

It's easy to say that perhaps the 1,000 Americans surveyed are just not that bright.  Scheufele disagrees, stating, "They are rejecting it based on religious beliefs. The issue isn't about informing these people. They are informed."

Scheufele believes that Americans who disprove of nanotechnology do not want humans "playing God."  That is, man manipulating structures of one nanometer, one billionth of a meter, is akin to God manipulating the forces of the universe.

In 2006 German researcher Peter Paufler discovered (with the aid of a sub-nanotechnology, the electron microscope) that a four hundred-year-old Damascus steel sword gained its incredible properties from carbon nanotube structures within the blade's edge.  Fifteen years earlier NEC created the world's first synthetic nanotube. One year later it was awarded the patent for one of the sharpest materials on earth, a plasma polished carbon nanotube blade.

Science has always bordered on the fence of terrifying and mysterious.  Civilization lost the secrets of Damascus steel making when then modern thinkers deemed it a practice of deus ex hominis.

Attempting to describe the morality of natural phenomena leads to an exercise in natural fallacy. Not once, in the history of mankind, has science ever been proven immoral -- and conversely -- nor has it ever been proven moral either. 

Will society deitize nano-researchers as modern day Damascus blademasters, or will it learn to look beyond the meta-ethics of natural phenomena for a change?


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Whatever
By borowki on 2/23/2008 7:00:27 AM , Rating: 5
Sounds like another attempt by a academic to get some media attention. We all know that you can pretty much get any result you want from polling. I recall earlier surveys showing a majority of Americans not knowing where is Ohio, thinking the Holocaust didn't happen, disagreeing with the second law of thermodynamics, and so forth.

Imagine if the following question is put to 1000 random Americans:

quote:

The use of aldohexose is morally acceptable

1. In no circumstances.
2. In situations where it saves lives and subjected to tight government regulation.
3. In all circumstances irregardless of the religious implications.

A majority, no doubt, would support some sort of a ban.




RE: Whatever
By andrinoaa on 2/23/08, Rating: -1
RE: Whatever
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/23/2008 11:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
Professor Scheufele has some extremely interesting topics published. I've linked his CV in the article.

The study he discusses here has not been published by a peer review journal yet. I've asked him for a copy of it. The majority of the study, according to the press release, focuses on the "immorality" index of the U.S. versus other countries. France, for example, showed that only 30% of those surveyed disproved of nanotechnology.

quote:
I recall earlier surveys showing a majority of Americans not knowing where is Ohio, thinking the Holocaust didn't happen, disagreeing with the second law of thermodynamics, and so forth.

It's unfortunate, but I would have a tendency to believe the average American probably does not know a damn thing about any of those topics.

Case in point. My mother just left her job at U.S. Airways over ethical issues. In the next few weeks you'll see some pretty heavy lawsuits headed their way claiming that the company discriminates against race. While its true, the company does not have a single black executive, that is not what the fallout is about.

No, the company has a policy that every employee must learn the world airport codes. ORD = O'Hare International, LAX = Los Angeles International, etc. A legal team has declared this practice discriminatory, since potential employees must have "an intricate knowledge of geography to pass this test"

So, I wouldn't be surprised that 700 out of 1000 Americans say nanotechnology is a bad thing.


RE: Whatever
By ziggo on 2/23/2008 1:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
I am confused? Are you saying that the employer setting qualifications for its employees is discriminatory?

Of course it is. If you didn't have to be qualified for the job then how would anything ever get done? I don't think knowing airport codes is out of line for an airline employee, just like my engineering education and abilities are required for my engineering job. If you can't discriminate based on reasonable qualifications then you could have a burger flipper doing my job and me working as an actor.

Employing people based on their qualifications is discriminatory, it separates people based on their abilities, but it sure as hell shouldn't be illegal.


RE: Whatever
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/23/2008 1:34:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Are you saying that the employer setting qualifications for its employees is discriminatory?

I'm certainly not saying that. But a team of lawyers suing U.S. Airways thinks so. And that's how we continue to set the bar for intelligence in this country ...


RE: Whatever
By ziggo on 2/23/2008 9:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I just was concerned that you were actually supporting such a position. I enjoyed this article, and most of the articles on this site, but the lack of reasoning required to support such a claim would make me reconsider my "viewership" if there is such a thing.

I can't believe anyone would actually sue with that kind of a case. The lawyers cannot possibly believe in this case, and are just looking for a payday. The whole profession just got knocked down a (another) notch in my book.

It makes me sick.


RE: Whatever
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 10:47:51 PM , Rating: 5
> "The whole profession just got knocked down a (another) notch in my book"

You still have some notches left? I ran out years ago.


RE: Whatever
By pheffern on 3/16/2008 2:24:55 PM , Rating: 2
What, a blanket condemnation of all lawyers in response to frivolous lawsuits undertaken by a few members of the American plaintiffs' bar? Shocking!

Everyone loves to hate lawyers until they're charged with a DUI, injured by a defective product, sued in a messy divorce, fired by a vindictive boss, hoping to leave instructions more complicated than "It all goes to my wife and kids" in their will, etc., etc., etc.

There're good lawyers and there are bad lawyers. Just like there are good journalists and bad journalists, good politicians and bad politicians, good teachers and bad teachers, etc. etc. etc. I've met a few doctors who are egomaniacal jerks, but strangely I don't hear a lot of complaints about the profession at large.

Lawyers are a part of life in modern society. The rules governing our means of living together are complex enough to require a profession trained and skilled in their interpretation. If you don't like the actions of a particular lawyer or lawyers, contact the disciplinary body of your state to see if you have recourse.

The system isn't always perfect, but if you have a problem with a lawyer, and the disciplinary body won't help you, then engage with the political process - find out why you have no recourse for your concern, and make an effort to change the system if you think it's warranted.

Just don't label us all soulless cash-hungry monsters because it's the fashionable thing to do.

/Rant

Porter Heffernan, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.(cand.)
... and proud of it.


RE: Whatever
By borowki on 2/23/2008 7:59:50 PM , Rating: 2
Well, is there a compelling reason for people to memorize that sort of things? It's easy enough to look up the code on a chart or the computer.

Higher standards are not necessarily better. One thing I've notice is that academic standards are always higher in authoritarian or corrupt countries. They are just another way to control people. I'm living in Poland now and I still see vestige of this mechanism in Polish academia. What the Polish professors do is give impossibly difficult questions (it usually involves memorizing something). If you kiss up to them, then you get hints enabling you to get a good grade. If you don't, then you fail.

Come to think of it, it's nothing new. Americans actually invented the practice after Reconstruction. Literacy tests were an effective mean to disenfranchise black voters until the Civil Rights Movement.


RE: Whatever
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 8:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
> "Is there a compelling reason for people to memorize that sort of things? It's easy enough to look up the code on a chart or the computer."

It's easy enough to look up 2 x 10 on a chart also, but I wouldn't hire an elementary school teacher who couldn't do that one in her head.

Having all airport codes in your head quite obviously allows an agent to work faster and with less error than someone who has to continually pause to look them up.


RE: Whatever
By borowki on 2/24/2008 4:55:28 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
It's easy enough to look up 2 x 10 on a chart also, but I wouldn't hire an elementary school teacher who couldn't do that one in her head.


Then be prepared to explain in a court room how the inability to do 2 x 10 in one's head is impairment to teaching little children.

quote:
Having all airport codes in your head quite obviously allows an agent to work faster and with less error than someone who has to continually pause to look them up.


I doubt you'd be able to prove that in court, given the level of computerization. From what I've observed in airports, translating airport codes to cities is hardly a frequent task. And the potential cost of a mistake means you'd want your employees to NOT rely on their memory.

Meanwhile, it's trivial to show that the requirement has a disparate impact on blacks: in general they have poorer schooling compared to whites. I think there's an even chance the plaintiff would win this (it'll be settled, of course).


RE: Whatever
By masher2 (blog) on 2/24/2008 12:33:41 PM , Rating: 3
> "Then be prepared to explain in a court room how the inability to do 2 x 10 in one's head is impairment to teaching little children"

I don't need to, as passing a basic math test is now (thankfully) a requirement for all public-school teachers.

> "I doubt you'd be able to prove that in court, given the level of computerization"

On the contrary, its trivial to prove it. A computer lookup of the code requires an extra step, and extra keystrokes. That takes time.

In fact, that's the entire reason airport codes were created in the first place. It's a much more efficient system than trying to type names-- faster, and much less prone to error. Airport codes are also unique, which is invaluable for cities without unique names, or in cities with multiple airports.

> "From what I've observed in airports, translating airport codes to cities is hardly a frequent task"

Then you've had your eyes closed.

> "Meanwhile, it's trivial to show that the requirement has a disparate impact on blacks: in general they have poorer schooling compared to whites"

So? If you can't do the job, its not up to the employer to school you, or deal with your incompetence. Correct your deficiency, then reapply for the job.


RE: Whatever
By borowki on 2/24/2008 8:10:27 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I don't need to, as passing a basic math test is now (thankfully) a requirement for all public-school teachers.


That's a bogus argument. Basic math is not doing arithmetics in one's head. Understanding of mathematical concepts is what matter for educational purpose, not speed.

quote:
On the contrary, its trivial to prove it. A computer lookup of the code requires an extra step, and extra keystrokes. That takes time.


There's this thing called the bar-code reader. There is also this other thing called the relational database, which call up all the flight and passenger information based on the ticket number, including where he is going to and from.

quote:
Then you've had your eyes closed.


If it's so blindingly obvious, then name one situation.

quote:
So? If you can't do the job, its not up to the employer to school you, or deal with your incompetence. Correct your deficiency, then reapply for the job.


I don't know where you've been the last 40 years. Under the Civil Rights Act, it's the burden of the employer to show that a job requirement is reasonable. Disparate impact is in general enough to prove discrimination.

A manager not understanding Title-VII compliance--now that's real incompetence.


RE: Whatever
By masher2 (blog) on 2/24/2008 9:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
> "Basic math is not doing arithmetics in one's head."

Sorry, but memorization of the basic multiplication tables is a critical math skill....which explains why every elementary school I know still teaches it. A teacher cannot easily teach what they do not know.

> "There's this thing called the bar-code reader. There is also this other thing called the relational database"

I guess you don't travel much. Passengers quite often change tickets, flight destinations, or even get entirely new tickets at the counter (via purchase, or for deadheading airline personnel who receive free ones). Also, there are also literally thousands of non-passenger related functions which require airline personnel to direct resources to particular airports.

Finally, even if true, your argument itself is invalid. Passengers quite often have questions for airline personnel which can be answered simply by knowing the destination. If an employee can answer that question just by seeing the code LAX or IUD, that's far faster than having to find a terminal, type in a lengthy ticket number, then wait for a result.

> "Disparate impact is in general enough to prove discrimination."

Oops -- this isn't correct. According to the 1991 Civil Rights Act, adverse impact is only illegal if the employer cannot show the criteria is "job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity".

Furthermore, you're a little confused on proving disparate impact. You can't simply argue "blacks do poorer in school, therefore this is harder for them". You have to show statistical proof that blacks (or some other protected group) has actually been adversely impacted. In this case, that this criteria has caused them to actually be fired at a substantially higher rate than the general workforce.


RE: Whatever
By 91TTZ on 2/25/2008 8:15:16 AM , Rating: 2
Borowki, give it up. You're arguing in favor of letting dumber people get jobs which makes life miserable for everyone involved.

If you work at an airport and don't even know the airport codes for different places, you shouldn't be working at an airport.

You have no point and you're making yourself look foolish.


RE: Whatever
By MaulBall789 on 2/25/2008 8:37:03 AM , Rating: 2
MAPPING.COM's List of WORLDWIDE AIRPORT CODES

Compiled from FAA, CAA, IATA, OAG, and other sources
Last Updates -- 19 February 2008
Total in Database: 34,580 Locations
(note that 454 IATA/FAA codes represent two locations)

If you think any airport personnel has the capacity to memorize this many codes at near minimum wage, you are big-time fooling yourself.

Repetition, by itself, will train people to know codes to the more frequently traveled destinations.


RE: Whatever
By rdeegvainl on 2/25/2008 10:17:18 AM , Rating: 3
I don't remember who said it, but it went something to the effect of, every day children are memorizing hundreds pokemon, but we can't expect them to know this?

Seriously, I think they should be able to have this as a requirement. Just like when I worked at mcdonalds for minimum wage I had to be able to take orders fast enough. Which did take memorization of the layout of my machine, and the different components of each and every sandwhich, and salad and everything else we did and made there.
All of us minimum wage kids could do it. We even had people who had mental handicaps who could do that. So when people complain they get no sympathy.


RE: Whatever
By MaulBall789 on 2/25/2008 11:47:47 AM , Rating: 1
Ok, hundreds of Pokemon, or 34,000+ codes. You're right, if someone REALLY applied themselves or has a special "rain man" ability, it surely can be done. I, myself, have probably memorized a foolish amount of stats on hundreds of baseball players for fantasy leagues. Even then I still make my own cheat sheet for drafting players. But I doubt even the top level airline execs have all 34,000+ codes memorized. A few thousand, maybe.

The reality is that such a person would have to derive some kind of enjoyment from memorizing these things. Kids really get into Pokemon and, as little sponges do, absorb as much information as they can. Just like me and fantasy baseball. Where's the enjoyment of memorizing thousands of airport codes? I'm sure there's someone out there who does get all excited about airport codes, just not usually the poor souls working at the check-in counter. Enjoyment doesn't seem to be what they are feeling.


RE: Whatever
By rdeegvainl on 2/25/2008 2:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
What it comes down to is if you want to learn them or not. If someone valued their job, they would want to learn the parts their employer ask of them. Since they are asking them to learn airport codes, and not city bus routes, I see no problem.


RE: Whatever
By masher2 (blog) on 2/25/2008 10:19:17 AM , Rating: 2
> "If you think any airport personnel has the capacity to memorize this many codes at near minimum wage"

Oops - airline personnel are NOT required to memorize the whole database, only those codes to which their own airline flies (a few dozen to a couple hundred codes in most cases).

As for "near-minimum wage", the median salary for flight attendants in 2005 was $53,700/year, The lowest paid job at my airport is customer service agent, and the median salary even there is about 2.5X minimum wage, plus extensive benefits.


RE: Whatever
By MaulBall789 on 2/25/2008 11:21:00 AM , Rating: 1
This is exactly what Kris said:

quote:
the company has a policy that every employee must learn the world airport codes.


At first glance it doesn't say some or most of the codes. If it's just the routes the specific carrier flies, you're right, that's not too much to ask. I know about 30 off the top of my head and I only fly about twice a year.

Where I work there are a good number of things I have memorized but even more are written down. Just can't remember every last little thing especially if it's an infrequently used bit of info.

And even at 2.5x minimum wage plus extensive benefits, a very few of the CSA's I've come across would be doing well to know the code of their own airport. But I would guess this new rule should be weeding them out.


RE: Whatever
By 91TTZ on 2/25/2008 10:35:05 AM , Rating: 2
Obviously they aren't required to know them all, just the major ones that the airline flies out of. You're not going to be landing a Boeing 777 on a grass strip in Africa and wouldn't need to know the airport code for that.


RE: Whatever
By borowki on 2/23/2008 7:31:51 PM , Rating: 2
There is no question that Americans are more concern about moral issues than Europeans. In this case though, I think it's just people confusing nanotechnology with bioengineering. I'm very, very doubtful that 700 of 1000 Americans--or people of any nationality, for that matter--have given any thought at all to nanotechnology, let alone the morality of it. This is pure sensationalist stuff.

It's a well-known phenomenon that if you offer three choices to people on a topic they don't they feel they have expertise in, they will choose the "compromise" position. Hence my sugar example. You can pretty much produce any result you want in a survey. A follow-up to the controversial Holocaust survey, asking directly whether it happened or not, showed 90%+ in the affirmative.

Surveys are pretty much useless when it comes to trying to determine the public's attitude, even with issues people are familiar with. Take abortion. If you ask "should abortion be banned in all circumstances?", you'd get a pro-choice answer. If you ask "should abortion be allowed in all circumstances?", you'd get a pro-life sounding answer.

The bottom-line is this: there is no political movement to restrict nanotechnology research. That's a real measure of what the public thinks--not phoney poll numbers.


RE: Whatever
By Proteusza on 2/26/2008 8:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
No, Americans are more concerned with religious issues, lets not confuse the two.

Given a real moral choice, such as between saving a life and not saving a life, I dont think you will find much difference anywhere in the world.

This is different though - I highly doubt that those surveyed knew what nanotechnology was. If they do, I hope they dont use any device containing a microchip - not only they are progessing towards nanoscale sizes, but also are a large part of the motivation towards nanotechnology.


RE: Whatever
By robinthakur on 2/26/2008 9:56:35 AM , Rating: 2
I sometimes think you can get away with anything in the US (or Pakistan) just by tacking on "because it says so in the Bible(Quran)" I can only imagine that most of those hicks which were surveyed hadn't got the foggiest what nanotechnology is, which is sad in itself in a supposedly educated nation, and simply assumed that this unknown technology must be frowned upon by 'God' because let's face it he's not a big fan of progress. Maybe they've all been taught using creationist propoganda.


RE: Whatever
By Ramon on 3/4/2008 3:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. I suspect that many polls of this ilk are created to make the scientist appear a "hero" who is fearlessly facing the "religious fanatics." I call it the "Copernicus Syndrome."


RE: Whatever
By Farfignewton on 2/24/2008 6:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A legal team has declared this practice discriminatory, since potential employees must have "an intricate knowledge of geography to pass this test"


Well. I'd like to know 2 things.

1) Since discrimination is allowed except under specific conditions, (race, sex, etc) which of the disallowed types means you are deficient in geography?

2) Where the **** did they find the idea that knowing airport codes requires even a mediocre knowledge of geography? You can know LAX refers to Los Angeles International Airport without being able to find the airport, Los Angeles, or even California on a map.


RE: Whatever
By borowki on 2/24/2008 8:24:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1) Since discrimination is allowed except under specific conditions, (race, sex, etc) which of the disallowed types means you are deficient in geography?


You are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of education level--unless you can justify it--since education can be (and had been) used as proxy for race. The most common example is requiring a janitor or store clerk to have a high-school diploma. See Griggs v Duke Power Co.


RE: Whatever
By masher2 (blog) on 2/24/2008 9:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
Memorizing airport codes is not a function of education level. As for Griggs v. Duke Power, numerous subsequent court cases have upheld the right of employers to set minimum standards for employees, provides those standards actually relate to on-the-job functions.

For instance, Lanning v. SEPTA, which required police officers to be able to run a certain distance at a certain speed, or Smith v. City of Jackson, where the court allowed younger workers to receive higher raises, according to the business necessity of attracting more applicants


RE: Whatever
By 91TTZ on 2/25/2008 8:20:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of education level--unless you can justify it--since education can be (and had been) used as proxy for race.


In this day and age with free public schools and integrated classrooms, there is no excuse why a black student wouldn't be able to excel like anyone else. If they perform poorly it's not anyone else's fault and laws shouldn't be made to protect people who never bothered listening in geography class. The information was made available to those who wanted to learn, and some people just don't care to learn.


RE: Whatever
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/25/2008 11:50:33 AM , Rating: 3
I'd highly encourage you to check out Chicago's inner city public school system. My girlfriend is a high school math teacher. She spends more of her time babysitting than actually teaching unfortunately.

HBO's season 4 of The Wire illustrates this painfully beautiful.

But, if we make it so jobs do not require anyone to gain any knowledge from academic institutions, I don't see how the public school system would improve.


RE: Whatever
By johnsonx on 2/25/2008 5:21:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where the **** did they find the idea that knowing airport codes requires even a mediocre knowledge of geography?


Yeah, I found that part a bit odd as well. I don't see any geographical connection between airport names and codes. I suppose if one were asked the airport code for John Wayne Airport, then knowing it's in Santa Ana (California) might help them recall that the code is SNA, but even that seems a stretch (if you know where John Wayne Airport is, wouldn't you know the code anyway?). How would knowing geography help one to know that the code for Toronto International Airport is YYZ? Being a Rush fan would help I guess (though I imagine Rush's fan base is largely white, so that's discriminatory too!)

At the end of all this, it's just a bunch of lawyers coming up with bull$hit so they can make money. They don't even have to prove anything in court, just get the airline to settle.


RE: Whatever
By mcmilljb on 2/28/2008 12:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but they did know that their computer depends on nanotechnology? I mean come on. The processor is at 45nm and getting smaller. People can just be dumb. A sociey has a hard time judging moral issues. Easiest example is obsencity. It's judge by a jury, so you're damned if you didn't even know it was that bad(rare cases but can happen). Moral issues, should be discussed openly and not surveried by the tiniest faction of society.


As an aside...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 2:31:38 PM , Rating: 4
> "The ability to make the Damascus steel was lost with the ages..."

The above is an excellent example of the value of the patent system. Rather than protecting your invention by keeping it a trade secret, you can choose to patent it...but in so doing, you ensure that (after a very brief period) it enters the public domain, free to humanity forever.




RE: As an aside...
By jbartabas on 2/23/2008 2:47:46 PM , Rating: 2
Good point about the patent system, but it does not apply to the example. No way that the only 'protection' for a 'revolutionary' weapon can be a patent ...


RE: As an aside...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 2:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
But Damascus steel wasn't kept secret for a military advantage. It was kept so for economic reasons -- a skilled metalsmith had a strong incentive to make sure no one but him (and perhaps a few apprentices) knew his secrets.

Fast-forward to today, where modern metallurgists don't keep their alloys and methods trade secrets. They patent them...and thereby open them up to the entire world.


RE: As an aside...
By jbartabas on 2/23/2008 3:20:19 PM , Rating: 2
You're right about the economic motivation for secrecy.
But that's not the point. The point is would a patent system would have prevented this secrecy and the loss of knowledge that resulted. Let's imagine for a second that a generous and visionary metalsmith would have decided to patent his technique, and that a decent copyright legislation was in place locally. I doubt that at a time of war with neighbors (or even at time of internal war)... the patent would be of any effect. The patent system has some stringent prerequisites to be really efficient.

I don't know exactly what's the situation nowadays, but I'd be surprised if even the most advanced pieces of military equipment were patented ... Some stuff are just meant to stay relatively secret.


RE: As an aside...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 3:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
> " Let's imagine for a second that a generous and visionary metalsmith would have decided to patent his technique"

That's just the point. A person doesn't need to be "generous and visionary" to be motivated to patent their innovation. The system rewards them for doing so. It's a win-win situation.

> "I doubt that at a time of war with neighbors (or even at time of internal war)... the patent would be of any effect"

Quite obviously, if the patent isn't protected, the system fails.

> "I'd be surprised if even the most advanced pieces of military equipment were patented "

They aren't. The government has an alternative reimbursement system, however, for innovations which it protects via secrecy, rather than patents.


RE: As an aside...
By jbartabas on 2/23/2008 4:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's just the point. A person doesn't need to be "generous and visionary" to be motivated to patent their innovation. The system rewards them for doing so. It's a win-win situation.


Considering the rarity of knowledge at that time, I am sure people who knew this kind of secret were doing very fine and I doubt that a patent system would have been a win for them...

quote:
Quite obviously, if the patent isn't protected, the system fails.

There are some inventions that are of too critical interest to not have the best system fail. A simple example, imagine that someone discovers a technique to enrich the uranium to weapon grade that is cheap, fast and very hard to detect. Patent it and try to enforce the strict use of the technique by authorized people ...

But enough with that, I agree with your general point about invention and patents, it's just that I am not sure that this particular example would have applied, although we'll obviously never know.


RE: As an aside...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 4:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
> "Considering the rarity of knowledge at that time..."

My point was that the rarity was due in large part to a total lack of incentive to share knowledge. Except for sheer altruism, there was no real reason to do so. Damascus steel is just one example of thousands of industrial secrets that were lost throughout history.


RE: As an aside...
By jbartabas on 2/23/2008 4:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My point was that the rarity was due in large part to a total lack of incentive to share knowledge.


I do agree with that. Also lots of modern devices require so many people in the designing&manufacturing process that total secrecy would be almost impossible to achieve (not even mentioning reverse engineering of the final product). Therefore it seems to me that the patent system was certainly a critical element to reach the level of technology we've reached today, because it is a much better guaranty that technology innovation will be exploited without being 'stolen' right away ... and after a reasonable time, you can let the others try to do it better, faster and cheaper :-D


RE: As an aside...
By lexluthermiester on 2/24/2008 4:56:29 AM , Rating: 2
Excellent point about the patent system. The copyright system needs to be reshaped to work in a similar way.

Still I think Damascus steel is a myth. Even if you make such metal, and manage to shape it into a sword, once it cools, how would you sharpen it? Back then[as today] stone was used to sharpen swords and cutting tools. If a Damascus sword could cut through a rock wrapped in silk without loosing it's razor sharp edge, how could stone be used to sharpen the very same weapon in the first place? Today we might have a way, but not back then... Simple physics, reason and logic are all thats needed to conclude that Damascus steel is most likely a total myth...


RE: As an aside...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/24/2008 11:09:05 AM , Rating: 2
Well, Damascus steel swords are still around. The Japanese had a very similar technique (watered steel) and that has been preserved throughout the ages.

Check out the forging process. It's totally incredible and explains how the ancients ended up with such sharp edges, even though they didn't know they were building nanostructures.


RE: As an aside...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/24/2008 12:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Wikipedia entry aside, the criteria I remember for a Damascus blade had nothing to do with cutting rock. A true Damascus blade had to pass three tests:

a. Be sharpened fine enough to cut a silk scarf floating in air.
b. Be tough enough to carve the metal of lesser blades
c. Be able to be bent 180 degrees (tip-to-hilt) without breaking or deforming.


RE: As an aside...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/25/2008 11:58:04 AM , Rating: 2
The reference is from Al Kindi's "Metaphysics"

It's a fantastic but difficult read about astronomy, religion, politics, science, technology and mathematics; authored in 800 AD. He was a true Renaissance man hundreds of years before his European counterparts.


Blaming Religion?
By BladeVenom on 2/23/2008 5:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Scheufele disagrees, stating, "They are rejecting it based on religious beliefs...


I blame hippies, wacky environmentalists, and fear mongering journalist.

What religion forbids nanotechnology? For those who believe the Bible, God told Adam, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." That was basically repeated to Noah after the flood that man was the master of Earth.

If you believe the Bible, we've been given the keys to the car, so to speak




RE: Blaming Religion?
By sqrt1 on 2/23/2008 6:03:30 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, and I would also like to see what were these survey questions. (link anyone?) You can make a survey say anything you want with the right questions.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By MatthewAC on 2/23/2008 11:09:31 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a Christian, and the only reason I'm not offended.
A. I wasn't in the survey.
B. No scientist will care what I think anyways
C. If you believe your God in someway created the heavens and the Earth, I don't know how you can be surprised after 6k years(Laugh at me, here) we got this far.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By Flunk on 2/26/2008 12:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
If you disagree with science, why are you using devices created with knowledge gained through science? (Like a computer). Doesn't that make you a hypocrite?

I don't think the survey has anything to do with religion, just mass ignorance of what biotechnology is. People are afraid of things they don't understand.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By Ramon on 3/4/2008 3:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing in the Bible compels you to believe in a 6K year old world. That idea is a strawman used to discredit Christian thought. There are plenty of Christians who believe that the universe is billions of years old. Without going into odious detail, I would refer you to the works of Gleason A. Archer for the views of one of the greatest authorities on biblical Hebrew on new versus old Earth. He certainly didn't believe that the English translations of the Septuagint conveyed the proper sense of the text - that the Earth was created over a long period of time. I could go into a lot of other detail, but I won't bore anyone further.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/23/2008 2:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
> "I blame hippies, wacky environmentalists, and fear mongering journalists"

Certainly that's part of it. Nanotechnology is on the attack from the Left and the Right. Quite a few environmentalists believe it to be "against nature".

Which, when you think about it, is really just another form of religion -- deifying mother nature, rather than a god or gods.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By Gondorff on 2/24/2008 2:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
Ok... instead of putting the focus back on religion, let's instead look at what the poster above was actually saying.

Namely, that the blame that is put on the religious in this article is completely unwarranted given the lack of any study on the matter. All the quotes from the source article merely show the researcher's belief that religion is the cause of the dissent. Also, he asserts with no backing information that lack of understanding is not the problem, but religious mores are. This is simply one man's biased ramblings, and it is all very unscientific.

In addition, I find it rather unsettling how various news media have portrayed this article, with titles that state as fact "Religion colors Americans' views of nanotechnology" when there is no evidence that shows this. Only a biased man's convictions.

In truth, I do realize that the religious right does hold some uneducated views about science, and I often have to defend myself against such claims being applied to me personally, as I take a much different approach to science than other Christians (though, people please note: the Catholic Church takes science very seriously -- and don't go all Galileo on me, that was hundreds of years ago; I'm talking about today). However, when I end up being victimized by a "scientific" article that doesn't even have any facts and figures to back up its ad hominem attacks on all of religion, then it gets pretty annoying. This is a shoddy job of scientific research and journalism for many involved.

[Please note: I realize that this article is a blog post on DT, which is what it belongs as. I have no problem with the journalism here; however, the articles cited were not blog posts, and to that I take offense.]


RE: Blaming Religion?
By DeepBlue1975 on 2/24/2008 8:02:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wearing clothes and using medicines to cure illnesses that would have actually killed us some centuries ago is also against nature.

Yet I don't see environmentalists refusing to take vaccines or to use clothes.

But we don't have to worry too much, history has demonstrated in numerous opportunities that those who oppose scientific and technological advances fail miserably in their goal.

The problem with those is their purpose of banning, rather than regulating (regulations are always welcome for new technologies if that makes them better suited to a society's wellbeing than otherwise) and, even as a most basic step, trying to understand how the things they try to forbid work.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/24/2008 9:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
> "history has demonstrated in numerous opportunities that those who oppose scientific and technological advances fail miserably in their goal"

History demonstrates even more cases where such forces have succeeded. Consider China's stagnant culture from the Song Dynasty on, which developed such innovations as the cannon and printing press, only to have them die out for hundreds of years, later to be reintroduced by the Western world. Or consider Medieval Europe, which took a thousand years to recover the science and culture of the Roman Era, due primarily to the stranglehold the Church held upon thought and expression. Or the Moorish developments in math and astronomy, which ultimately went nowhere within that particular culture.

Or even consider the Luddite movement in England, which was crushed only by draconian government action, including execution and deportation. Were such a widespread, popular movement to reform today, no Western government alive would have the political wherewithal to actively resist them.

Those that oppose scientific progress are indeed often succesful. Their track record has been a bit poor as of late, but across all human history, they've been quite succesful.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By Ratwar on 2/25/2008 1:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
Sure, there have been short term victories for anti-innovation forces, but you see the end result of all of your examples was innovation. The Europeans did regain the science and culture of the Romans (whether or not it was hindered by the Church). China got its ass handed too it by Britain, effectively opening it up too new ideas.

Someone somewhere will always innovate, and through their innovations, they will gain advantages over those that aren't willing to change. Eventually, the advantages will force those opposed to scientific advances to open their eyes, or be buried.


RE: Blaming Religion?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/25/2008 10:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
> "Sure, there have been short term victories..."

I see your point, but it's hard for me to call a thousand years a "short term victory". Were such an even to recur in contemporary civilization (which it very well might) it would doom a hundred generations of our descendents to a miserable existence...assuming they could even survive the collapse.


Religion VS Science
By xRyanCat on 2/24/2008 12:33:01 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a practicing Christian and I don't feel that religion and science have to be mutually exclusive. I find it almost hard to believe that these people honestly think nanotech is morally unacceptable on religious grounds. I believe they are ignorant to begin with; perhaps not on the subject of nanotechnology, but their own religion.

I've read the Bible and I can't remember any references detailing anything remotely close to nanotech.

While slightly off-topic, I'm trying to get my head around "the earth is 6,000-10,000 years old" thing. Everything I've ever read says otherwise and the arguments I've read from my pastors are pretty moot. I talked to him about radioactive carbon dating and how it clearly states the earth is much older than what the Bible says. He wanted to know how accurate carbon-14 dating is, and how exactly it works. I've read about it, but can anyone give me a detailed explanation (or some references/citation) to tell him?

Thanks.




RE: Religion VS Science
By masher2 (blog) on 2/24/2008 12:54:35 AM , Rating: 2
The earth has been dated radiometrically in dozens of different ways. C-14 dating isn't actually the best method used to date the earth itself...but all the multitudinous methods used agree to fairly close order.

An excellent book on the subject is:

http://www.amazon.com/Age-Earth-G-Dalrymple/dp/080...

I have this on my bookshelf myself; highly recommended.


RE: Religion VS Science
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/24/2008 11:17:42 AM , Rating: 3
As I've mentioned in the past: 6,000 years ago, 13.7 billion years ago, and 5 minutes ago. All of these are possible ages for the universe when God is introduced.

It's a thought exercise. If you believe a supreme being constructed the universe, then it may have started just about any time. Carbon dating, memories, photographs are all just aligned particles set in motion. If you believe God created the universe then there is absolutely no reason to think God could play with the starting time a bit.


RE: Religion VS Science
By Gondorff on 2/24/2008 1:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
Except on a philosophical level.

If we assume a Christian God, who is all-loving etc, then it would not make any sense for that God to be trying to trick us and fool us into thinking that the world is different than it appears. That would seem malicious.

A theological approach would say that we have two things pretty straight from God--the Bible and the world (yet even the Bible was mediated by human writers). Now, to deny either would be to deny the truth, so they should work together. Truth does not contradict truth (I think JP2 said that).

On the issue of the world being 6,000 years old as seen in the Bible--the writers of the Bible were not scientists. And writing at that point in time took on much more symbolic, and much less historic tendencies. Historical truth was equal to describing how an event felt or what it seemed to mean, and not factual literal truth. [for example, one might say that there was an army of a million people, even though it was really much smaller--the effect was the important part though]. The Gospels for instance, do not only give us a set of historical facts about Jesus. Much that is contained in them is likely not literally true, but describes the essence of Jesus' teachings, which, really, is more important. I'd rather know what he was all about than a factual roadmap of his every little journey.
So all in all, the 6,000 year old argument flops when considering the intentions of the writers of those books--they weren't trying to make scientific observations. If we are to take them as scientific teachers, then there are a whole slew of other things we would have to believe--for example, Genesis, and I think some of the psalms, paint a pretty clear picture that people of that time believed the sky was a literal dome above the earth that had gates in it. Above this dome was lots of water, and when God wanted it to rain, he opened a gate and let some water through (God separated the waters above from the waters below). I really hope no one believes this as factually true anymore, yet this aspect of Biblical science is conveniently glossed over.


RE: Religion VS Science
By Proteusza on 2/26/2008 8:37:37 AM , Rating: 2
Who even knows if the people of the time could understand the numbers required to understand the possible age of the universe?

I'm sure they understood 1000, and maybe 1000000, but perhaps 14 billion was such a large number they truncated it to 6000, because it made no difference to them.


RE: Religion VS Science
By radializer on 2/26/2008 11:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Who even knows if the people of the time could understand the numbers required to understand the possible age of the universe?


A lot of people don't realize that the early mathematical knowledge of the ancient Hindus is what forms the basis of our current numeric system in the West - and they were quite advanced in their numerical abilities. The earliest recorded mathematical texts are from the 2500BC-1500BC time period and the classical period extended from 400AC-1200AD. The most important contributions spanning these times were the concept of zero (or the void), negative numbers, algebra and arithmetic.

The concept of "arabic numerals" traveled to Europe through the Arab world in the 7th Century AD - when the persian gulf acted as a conduit for information and knowledge exchange between the Greeks, Arabs and the Hindus. Since these numbers came from the Arabs, the West came to know of them as "arabic numerals". Interestingly enough, the arabic name for these numerals is "arqam hindiyyah" - which stands for Indian numerals.

In answer to your question about the understand of numbers large enough to comprehend the age of the universe, the religious texts of the Vedic Period (1200BC-900BC) provide evidence for the use of large numbers. By the time of the last Veda, numbers as high as 10^12 were being included in the texts. The names of these numbers were (some of which are still used in India today) -->

shata = 100
sahastra = 1,000
ayuta = 10,000
niyuta = 100,000
prayuta = 1,000,000
arbuda = 10,000,000
nyarbuda = 100,000,000
samudra = 1,000,000,000 (literally means "ocean" in Sanskrit)
madhya = 10,000,000,000 (literally means "middle" in Sanskrit)
anta = 100,000,000,000 (literally means "end" in Sanskrit)
parardha = 1,000,000,000,000 (literally means "beyond" in Sanskrit)

So, in a nutshell, there were people on this planet at that time and age who could comprehend large numbers.

http://www.macalester.edu/~bressoud/pub/phil&math/...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu-Arabic_numeral_...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_mathematics
http://www.crystalinks.com/indiamathematics.html
http://scitsc.wlv.ac.uk/university/scit/modules/mm...


RE: Religion VS Science
By Alazar on 2/28/2008 12:29:16 PM , Rating: 2
Following along this vein of thought, I have to ask for a reconsideration of the title to something like "Religion and Science". Why must the public mass automatically assume a religion is anti-science?

The biggest example, of course, being the Christian Church.

For years the large consensus was, has been, and probably still is, that the Christian church-goer is uneducated, blind, and otherwise ignorant lot.

I cannot express how far from the truth that is. While there are stereo-types for a reason there are a vast majority of Christian scientists. An example of this would be http://www.Answersingenesis.org. A group dedicated to apologetics (Christian defending) ministry, most notably the entire Creation V. Evolution debate.

The only difference in scientists come on where you begin basing your theories. All bases go back to a focal point. The beggining. If you assume there was no God during the begining of the earth and go from there, you are bound to get answers far different from a scientist who assumes there was a Creator.

Not to say that there are not various Laws and Theories (EX: Thermodynamics) that Christian and Secular scientists both agree upon. But there are areas in which these groups will conflict.

At any rate, we cannot assume a religion is anti-science based because the mass ignorantly assumes their religion says it's immoral. It is a simple demonstration how the majority only say they are of so-so denomination or faith just to have that tag.


RE: Religion VS Science
By Ramon on 3/4/2008 3:48:55 PM , Rating: 2
Google "Long Day Creationist" and you'll find that there are lots of very good arguments that favor a very long creation time without requiring you to lose your faith in the God of the Bible.


Brilliant
By James Holden on 2/23/2008 3:42:14 AM , Rating: 5
Kris, It was not long ago I discovered you're only 25. This is an outstanding post.




RE: Brilliant
By Dianoda on 2/23/2008 5:57:54 AM , Rating: 3
Something I've noticed over the last 20 years is how much technological improvements have sped up. The rate of advancement is increasing faster than any of us are prepared for. But it is important to realize that there are consequences to such a rapid pace.

The human race, as a collective of rational beings, has been given responsibility over this planet. As guardians of the life that exists here, how can we ensure that we act as and remain as guardians? I believe that this is the greatest challenge to mankind: can we, as a species, adequately protect the very planet that sustains us? As the number of humans living on this planet increases, and our race’s power over the natural world grows, will we discover that we are capable of preserving our world, or that we are unfit for such a task?

Technology has allowed us to improve human life, to be sure, but at what costs? We can't really answer that question. We are too rash a species; we don't know all the consequences of our actions. Also, our analysis of human destiny, our final purpose, is fragile, and incomplete. Without such knowledge we run the risk of being mistaken.

Kris, the human race simply can not refuse to question its own progress. We do so because the chance exists that we are wrong. Such questioning acts as a compass for our research, our goals, and has played a large part in the shaping of our world. It is highly unlikely that progress towards improving nanotechnology slows down due to such meta-ethics issues. But it can and should be argued that the human race has attained and continues to attain capabilities that are in excess of its demonstrated ability as responsible steward of the planet. We have some maturing to do before we claim powers that even we typically reserve for the divine.


RE: Brilliant
By brenatevi on 2/23/2008 6:18:35 AM , Rating: 2
Science isn't moral or immoral, but the use of science can be either. We have to be very careful how we use the science. We have to ask ourselves "Is this the right thing to do?" The problem with the breakneck speeds of advancing science is that when we stumble, it's a big stumble, and there's great potential for lots of people dying. Just look at nuclear power. Although it has the potential to improve so many lives, but because of Chernoble and Three Mile Island, people would rather burn fossil fuels than use it. Nanotech has as much potential to do harm as it does to do good. We have to ask those in charge, those that are making these advances possible to be very, very careful.


RE: Brilliant
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/23/2008 11:58:20 AM , Rating: 2
A topic I've pushed extensively here is the call for nanotechnology awareness. I'll quote another post of mine here:

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=10813...

quote:
At one time, we encouraged asbestos to no end. It was the miracle material. CNTs and buckeyballs are todays miracle materials.

A year ago, I called for awareness into this field. Not because I want CNT development halted, but because I think if we understand the risks before plunging headlong into them, we (the scientific community) can pre-emptively counter the naysayers with logical, clearly defined studies.

http://www.dailytech.com/A+Call+for+Nanopollution+...

I strongly advise anyone involved in the field of CNT research to start the analysis now and do it in an honest and thorough manner.


At some point, miracle science has nothing to do with morality, but a threat of danger. "I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds," said Oppenheimer after witnessing the first nuclear detonation. Yet the world would be a very different place without nuclear sciences.

We can calculate specific risks of new technologies, assuming we understand them well enough, and then adjust our lifestyles and deployment of those technologies accordingly.

Even that is not a question of morality. It's just statistics and risk assement somewhere along the line.


RE: Brilliant
By Ringold on 2/24/2008 2:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
You've got a long, but important, road ahead of you for nanotech awareness. Some environmentalists have already chosen that field, in one broad stroke, to be the next target of their own holy wrath. It seems most groups are waiting until they've already successfuly snarled the entire planet in greenhouse gas reduction / economic retardent measures before moving on, but I've also noticed some have already started to spread FUD.

If scientists and engineers don't educate the public quick enough then environmentalists will fill the void. Then we have something like Europe and their anti-GM food crop idiocy, a generation of lost progress. At least, in this nation we would lose a generation. China, no doubt, will be very happy to take any ball we drop and run with it.


RE: Brilliant
By Enoch2001 on 2/23/2008 8:14:41 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed - brilliant post Kris. Probably the best commentary I have ever read here. Bravo!


Actually, it doesn't cut at all.
By clovell on 2/23/2008 2:31:27 PM , Rating: 2
The survey shows that

>"Our data show a much lower percentage of people who agree that nanotechnology is morally acceptable in the U.S. than in Europe,"

It then goes into hand-waving about possible causes.

>"There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe, in terms of attitudes toward nanotechnology," says Scheufele.

Why the big difference?

The answer, Scheufele believes , is religion: "The United States is a country where religion plays an important role in peoples' lives. The importance of religion in these different countries that shows up in data set after data set parallels exactly the differences we're seeing in terms of moral views. European countries have a much more secular perspective."


Nowhere is it stated that there were any questions about religion on the questionnaire. Nowhere is it stated that there was a significant correlation between people's religious views and their views on nanotechnology. Even if there were, and a direct correlation could be shown, correlation is not causation.

This sounds more like interference from 'scientists' who would rather not be bothered by DMCs, IRBs, and the likes of the ICH. There is no story here, people. Read the data, not the conclusions drawn. Numbers don't lie, people do.

Sorry if that's giving you the third degree, Kris - I know you were using the article to make a point, which is probably still a good one. It's just that this 'study' touched a nerve with me.




RE: Actually, it doesn't cut at all.
By jbartabas on 2/23/2008 3:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that more than 70% of 1,015 surveyed Americans deem nanotechnology morally repulsive.


I don't think it is stated anywhere in the DT article that the study shows that the religious views is the explanation to the results. To the contrary, it is stated that it is the professor's belief.

As for the professor's interpretation of the results, he's doing what every scientist is doing after obtaining results. He's drawing some perspectives. Considering he most probably didn't started his career yesterday and with this single survey, he probably has some other elements to derive such conclusions (which are briefly discussed actually). You're entitled to disagree with his interpretation but you'll have to enter an expert's discussion with him that would require both of you to provide elements of proof.


RE: Actually, it doesn't cut at all.
By clovell on 2/23/2008 6:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
> I don't think it is stated anywhere in the DT article that the study shows that the religious views is the explanation to the results. To the contrary, it is stated that it is the professor's belief.

Right, and if you read what I wrote, you'll plainly see I was referring to the article cited, not Kris's blog - so we're on the same page there.

> As for the professor's interpretation of the results, he's doing what every scientist is doing after obtaining results.

There's a couple things here to consider. First and foremost, we need to consider that a reporter wrote the source article, and probably wrote it in such a way as to draw readers, thereby taking a degree of liberty in the wording of the article.

Dr. Dietram Scheufele may very well have made his stated conclusions in a very qualified and professional manner, only to have someone else spin them in a different context. Or, maybe he did present the data and the reporter did not think to include it in the article.

However, if this source article is a true characterization of his conclusions, he is demonstrating a degree of irresponsibility by claiming 'exact parallels' (correlation) between two variables - one of which was not even studied - without providing numbers.

> He's drawing some perspectives. Considering he most probably didn't started his career yesterday and with this single survey, he probably has some other elements to derive such conclusions (which are briefly discussed actually).

He's not drawing perspectives. He's drawing conclusions. Conclusions must be supported by data. Claiming an 'exact' parallel without providing any numbers is again, irresponsible.

I'd also like to mention that his background is in communication, whereas the subject matter he's speaking on is more within the realm of sociology.

> You're entitled to disagree with his interpretation but you'll have to enter an expert's discussion with him that would require both of you to provide elements of proof.

Unfortunately, in scientific discovery, the onus of proof is on the person claiming the advancement or discovery. That burden is generally met with data from a controlled (as much as can be expected) experiment.

Dr. Dietram Scheufele has not given the data necessary to substantiate the claim that differences in religion are responsible for or even parallels exactly the disparity in attitudes between Americans and Europeans. His questionnaire doesn't even address this 'conclusion'. The data isn't there. To posit that religion may be one of the possible factors would be fine. And that could very well be what he did before a reporter decided to cherry-pick his words.

As for expert discussion, I'm pretty convinced the article took him out of context, and I wouldn't presume to intrude on his time. However, if push came to shove, I do have a graduate degree in statistics, work for a Fortune 100 company, and spend most of my days telling PhDs and MDs what they can and cannot say based on the data from their experiments.

But let me be clear - I'm not saying he's wrong. I'm saying he has not presented enough evidence to make the claims made in the source article.


RE: Actually, it doesn't cut at all.
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 2/23/2008 6:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
One thing to keep in mind is that Scheufele authored the release that I linked to. At least, it has his name in the byline / contact information. So, at least, those statements were authorized by him.


By clovell on 2/25/2008 2:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
I had noticed that he was listed as the contact for the press release and was a bit afraid of that. I stand by my comments, but I do hope that he has data that were neither cited nor presented that can substantiate the claims he made.


Figures...
By marsbound2024 on 2/24/2008 12:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
If it was up to God, or more accurately, those that follow God, we would all still be herding sheep and killing millions of our brethren in continued Crusades. That's progress for ya.




RE: Figures...
By brenatevi on 2/25/2008 2:21:03 AM , Rating: 2
Instead, we have 6 million people exterminated scientifically by the Germans, over 60 years ago. Hmph, maybe we haven't progressed as much as we think.


RE: Figures...
By marsbound2024 on 2/25/2008 11:44:53 PM , Rating: 2
You make a point, but I would also like to add that their eugenics could be considered a fanaticism of the Nazi "cult." The rest of the world was markedly against their practices as was seen by the results of World War II (with a few exceptions). I don't see countries coming together against nanotechnology yet. So I believe there is a difference between scientifically-driven, fanatical conquests that murder human beings and scientific pursuits for bettering humanity so that everyone benefits.


meta-sexy
By oopyseohs on 2/23/2008 3:26:35 AM , Rating: 2
Ooh Kris, you make me so hot when you use big words. ;)




By Dfere on 2/23/2008 10:07:29 AM , Rating: 2
Hi,

Sorry but I think this argument, like most others about technological change, is moot. Science advances all the time, and while polls (which are hard to accept without understanding the methodology and process) may be taken to show people for or against a certain new technology, the end result is people accept new technologies when commercial technologies become available and provide a benefit. In other words, when you benefit from it, you are usually for the technology. I can only think of two groups who do not rely on current technologies, Christian scientists and to some extent, the Amish. But even the Amish are rejecting conveniences as a spiritual matter and not the technology, and Christian Scientists rely on faith.

I think the rate of adoption of a technology is simply related to its common everyday commercial use. In terms of damascus steel, it is hard for me to believe a lot of the clamor was not because not everyone could have the technology.

Too bad they didn't have a patent office in Damascus.




A farce?
By geddarkstorm on 2/23/2008 1:55:12 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't think this is that meaningful or realistic. It could be when people think of nanotechnology they think of something else than what nanotechnology really is (or they don't know what nanotechs have actually been made, and the technology is presented to them in such a way as to sound more mystical than it is). We don't see any major movements against the use of nanotechnology (other than potential, and even sometimes grave, health risks misuse could cause), and yet nanotechnology is starting to be used everywhere these days, like buckyballs for lubrication and such. If nanotubes are used to cure cancer, will people really hate it?

I really think this isn't important. I guess we'll only know as we see what comes when nanotechnology is more prominent in industry. But come on, things like metal rubber or that blackest material are just too cool, and I don't see anyone complaining about those clear nanotechs. Again, the only real complaints I've ever seen against nanotech is just the health risks and making sure we don't screw up the environment somehow with it.

Oh, and then, the parallel to Damascus steel is totally off. Science is clearly written down for everyone to see, no secrets taken to the grave--everything has to be reproduceable by others. So, unless all modern society collapsed at once and we lost the base industrial capacity that nanotechnology is founded on, I doubt we could lose the knowledge.




By mattclary on 2/25/2008 3:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
I would personally doubt if 70% of the population knew what nanotech really is. I would wonder if they had to give examples. Probably the only place most had heard the term was when 7 of 9 would discuss her nanobots.




By phxfreddy on 2/26/2008 11:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
This is what you get with the neurotic anti technology crowd whether its the sham that is man made global warming or nano technology. And the worst is the most vocal of the anti technology crowd get their feelings of relevancy reinforced by being anti-whatever and at the same time getting paid to be that way. ( think GreenFleece or Global Warming again! )....no I'm atheist but I recognize a religion when I see one. The liberal anti technology crowd is tending towards NeoPaganism worship of nature. So you can blame religion....just make sure its the correct one.




By PresidentThomasJefferson on 2/27/2008 11:08:10 PM , Rating: 2
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/DyeHard/story?id=...

In one recent study of attitudes in the United States and Europe, only 29.5 percent of 1,015 adult Americans said they found nanotechnology "morally acceptable." If that really is typical of the whole population, then far more Americans find nanotechnology morally unacceptable than participants in France, where 72.1 percent found it acceptable, and other European countries.

The difference, according to the researchers, is religion.

"The United States is a country where religion plays an important role in peoples' lives," Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication told participants at a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "European countries have a much more secular perspective."

Scheufele conducted the research with Elizabeth Corley of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University. The study, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, also showed that American participants rated God as much more important in their lives than participants in the U.K. and continental Europe. Scheufele believes that is largely why Americans have more of a problem with the morality of nanotechnology than Europeans.

And he emphasizes that the participants in the study had been adequately informed of the potential benefits of nanotechnology.


"They still oppose it," he said. "They are rejecting it based on religious beliefs. The issue isn't about informing these people. They are informed."




The way it is.
By sporr on 2/28/2008 1:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It Cuts Both Ways: American Majority Deems Nanotechnology Immoral


Or,

quote:
It Cuts Both Ways: Religous Majority in America Deem Nanotechnology Immoral


Because the majority are religous you see.




Results can't be trusted
By Nik00117 on 2/23/2008 8:35:57 AM , Rating: 1
I highly doubt any relegionish fantic or at least any significant ammount of them would be aganist nano technology.

Maybe 2-3 is my bet, and quite frankly there is no reason to be aganist it... Its a research field. Get over it.




By NullSubroutine on 2/23/2008 3:16:33 PM , Rating: 1
I don't say how you can say all Americans believe this when its only the religious ignorant. I think the title should state which part of the surveyed population believes that, rather than stating 'all Americans'.

Thats the same as saying Australians are gay, Europeans smoke crack, or Africans eat babies. You shouldn't make generalized statements or titles. It is wrong and not professional.




"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki