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Scott Atran

Scott Atran is Research Director in Anthropology at France's National Center for Scientific Research and Visiting Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is the coeditor, with Douglas Medin, of Folkbiology (MIT Press, 1999).

Titles by This Author

Surveys show that our growing concern over protecting the environment is accompanied by a diminishing sense of human contact with nature. Many people have little commonsense knowledge about nature—are unable, for example, to identify local plants and trees or describe how these plants and animals interact. Researchers report dwindling knowledge of nature even in smaller, nonindustrialized societies. In The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, Scott Atran and Douglas Medin trace the cognitive consequences of this loss of knowledge.

Titles by This Editor


The term "folkbiology" refers to people's everyday understanding of the biological world—how they perceive, categorize, and reason about living kinds. The study of folkbiology not only sheds light on human nature, it may ultimately help us make the transition to a global economy without irreparably damaging the environment or destroying local cultures.