Scott Atran is an anthropologist and psychologist who studies how cognitive constraints and biases, and cultural preferences and values, shape social structures and political systems. He is co-founder of Artis International and the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at the University of Oxford; Research Professor at the University of Michigan’s Gerald Ford School of Public Policy ; Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Changing Character of War Centre ; Emeritus Director of Research at France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique ; and advisor to the UN Security Council on counterterrorism and issues of Youth, Peace and Security. His work and life have been spotlighted on television, radio, internet blogs and podcasts, and in the popular and scientific press, including feature and cover stories of the New York Times Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature and Science.
He received his B.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University (and an M.A. in social relations from Johns Hopkins). His research interests include the ways scientists and ordinary people categorize and reason about nature, on the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, and on the limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict.
His publications include Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science (Cambridge Univ. Press), In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion (Oxford Univ. Press), The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature (MIT Press), Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What It Means to be Human (Penguin), and L'Etat islamique est une révolution (Les liens qui libèrent, Paris).