Scott Atran

Founding Fellow

Scott Aran Blog


Scott Atran is an anthropologist who experiments on ways scientists and ordinary people categorise and reason about nature, on the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, and on limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict. Scott has done fieldwork around the world, where he has interviewed the leadership and members of insurgent and extremist groups. He has briefed NATO, U.S. Senate and House, the National Security Council staff at the White House, the UN Security Council, EU Governments, the World Economic Forum and others on problems of youth and violent extremism. He is tenured as Research Director in Anthropology at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Institut Jean Nicod − Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris. He is a founding fellow of the Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Harris Manchester College and Department of Politics and International Relations. His work and life have been spotlighted around the world on television and radio and in the popular and scientific press, including feature and cover stories of the New York Times MagazineThe Chronicle of Higher EducationNature and Science News.


Recommendations to the UN Security Council Committee on Counter Terrorism. The Journal of Political Risk 3(12), December 2015;

ISIS is a Revolution. AEON, December 2015;

On the Front Line against ISIS: Who Fights, Who Doesn’t, and Why, Daily Beast, April 2016;

The Devoted Actor: Unconditional Cooperation and Intractable Conflict Across Cultures.Current Anthropology 57, S13:192-203, June 2016;

ISIS: The Durability of Chaos, New York Review of Books, July 2016);

L’etat islamique est une révolution, Paris: Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2016

Atran, S. & Hamid, N. Paris: The War ISIS Wants. New York Review of Books, November 2015;

Atran, S., Axelrod, R., Davis, R. & Fischhoff, B. Challenges to Researching Terrorism from the Field. Science 355(6323):352-354, January 2017;

Ginges, J., Sheikh, H, Atran, S. & Argo, N. Thinking from God’s Perspective Decreases Biased Valuation of the Life of a Non-Believer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 113:316-319, January 2016;

Sheikh, H., Gómez Á. & Atran, S. Empirical Evidence for the Devoted Actor Model.Current Anthropology 57, S13:204-209, June 2016;