Monday, February 5


Nanotechnology is a field that has, over the last few years, has attracted a great deal of hype, advertising, fearmongering and random declarations of one or another, ranging from promises of wonderful new inventions to a grey goo mass devouring the planet.

So good to see someone getting a debunking of a few myths into the business press (Steven C. Currall in the Feb 1 BusinessWeek).

From a scientist's point of view, I think the critical one may be myth 2 - that the public need to know what something is to form an opinion. As the recent cases over GM food and the Brent Spar furore (where Nature ended up lamenting that "Shell Oil's decision not to sink a used oil-rig at sea is a needless dereliction of rationality") have shown, the public don't need to understand anything to fear something - lack of knowledge and someone else saying it is scary is more than enough. Unfortunately, reasonable estimates based on accurate scientific and commercial knowledge is not as interesting to a journalist courting readership than sci-fi promises and terrifying threats.

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