Melvin Konner Biography

Melvin Konner is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Emory University. He studied at Brooklyn College, CUNY (1966), where he met Marjorie Shostak, whom he later married and with whom he had three children. He earned his PhD in biological anthropology from Harvard University in 1973. He spent two years doing fieldwork among the Kalahari San or Bushmen, studying infant development and the hormonal mechanism of lactational infertility. After six years on the Harvard faculty, he returned to school and received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1985. He then moved to Emory as department chair.

From 1985 on, he contributed substantially in developing the concept of a Paleolithic diet and its impact on health, publishing along with Stanley Boyd Eaton, and later also with his wife Marjorie Shostak and with Loren Cordain.

He has held grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation, and has been a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, and the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry.

Raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, Konner has stated that he lost his faith at age 17. His views on religion, however, are complex, as he has also discussed the function of counseling by chaplains in the hospital where he worked, saying that while as a scientist he did not endorse their views, as an anthropologist he recognized the value of their services.

Konner aroused some controversy in 2006 when he wrote an article contesting the claims in former US President Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter responded quoting from his December 15 press release entitled "Letter to the Jewish Citizens of America". In a lengthy follow-up letter, Konner disputed Carter's claims and called the book and its title inflammatory.

He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposium on November 2006.