Essays & Columns

Wall Street Journal Columns

Can Just Taking a Picture Be a Treatment for Infertility?  July 29, 2017

An imaging technique to diagnose reasons for childlessness has a surprisingly happy result

In Tough Times, Religion Can Offer a Sturdy Shelter, July 1, 2017

Many recent studies have shown that religious observance can strengthen resilience to stress and illness

The Link Between Detached Dads and Risk-Taking Girls, June 2, 2017

New research on daughters and risk-taking behavior

A Twins Study Shows ADHD Isn’t Just Genetic, May 6, 2017

If school environment plays a part, what should we change?

In Domestic Abuse, a Gauge of Words and Deeds, April 7, 2017

New research on the links between threats and violence

Does Gender Affect the Way We Navigate? March 10, 2017

What we can learn from Danes, Mexicans and Namibians

Slow Progress on an Intimate Women’s Problem, February 4, 2017

Researchers report improvement but much needs to be done

Mobile Banking Gives a Big Boost to Kenya’s Poor, January 14, 2017

Benefits go to women particularly; ‘financial resilience’

Brains That Are Still Getting Wired In Babyhood, December 15, 2016

Cells migrate long after birth and affect development, new research shows

Brain Surgery That Takes on Tremors Without a Drill, November 18, 2016

A new procedure that uses focused ultrasound to destroy a spot in the thalamus may help people with tremor

Did Campfire Talk Spark the Rise of Human Culture? October 12, 2016

What we can learn from 20th-century Bushmen

We Need More Answers on Teens and Pornography, September 23, 2016

Good American research on the causes and consequences of children’s exposure to internet pornography is hard to come by

New Hope in the Search for a Treatment for Obesity,  August 27, 2016

A study finds that the medication setmelanotide led to dramatic weight loss in two teenagers with an obesity disorder

Lighter Penalties for Those With ‘Violent’ Genes?  July 23, 2016

Now we have tools to understand chemical changes that let genes affect levels of violence

For Peaceable Humans, Don’t Look to Prehistory,  July 2, 2016

Archaeology has finally laid to rest the idea that earlier human societies were completely peaceful. Melvin Konner on new evidence

A ‘Polypill’ May Be the Next Big Preventive Fix,  June 8, 2016

Polypills—at least in one configuration—battle heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses all at the same time. Should everyone over 50 be taking them?

What the West Can Learn from Tibetan Pain Management,  May 12, 2016

The Tibetan tradition and its herbal medicines offer an inviting alternative to the typical Western approach

Scientific Tools Bring to Life a Mammoth Hunt, April 14, 2016

New research enables almost a play-by-play account of how men brought a mammoth down 45,000 years ago

Watch the Hype: Cancer Treatment Still Has Far to Go,  March 17, 2016

Two decades’ achievements are modest

Brain Mutations Guarantee Our Individuality,  February 18, 2016

Recent research shows that in brain development, cell mutations are ubiquitous

Confessions of a Paleo Diet Pioneer,  January 20, 2016

Melvin Konner, whose work on ancient eating habits helped lead to the low-carb paleo diet, gives us an updated version of what we should be eating

Why Do Rituals Grow as a Year Dwindles? December 23, 2015

From ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to Christmas trees, the end of the year is full of rituals. Melvin Konner explains why

What Economists Fail to See in the Act of Gift-Giving, December 2, 2015

New research suggests why holiday gifts—unlike purchases for oneself—have a value far higher than some economists previously thought

What’s Missing in Studies of a ‘Missing Link’ in Human Ancestry, November 5, 2015

Homo naledi discovery raises plenty of new questions

New York Times Op-Ed Page columns

Jackson Said, ‘Take My Hand,’ April 22, 1988

A scene in a Los Angeles hospital room

Still Invisible, and Dying, in Harlem, February 24, 1990

Residents of Bangladesh live longer

If Insurers Win, We Lose, October 4, 1992

Give single-payer a chance

A Dream Deferred, September 28, 1994

Remember life, liberty, happiness? The issue is not competition, it is strength

A Giant Leap Backward, October 13, 1995

Medicare and the third-worldization of America

Adolescent Pregnancy, September 24, 1977

The secular trend toward earlier puberty changed everything

Essays in The New York Times Magazine

Childbearing and Age, December 27, 1987

We humans are adapted for long, valuable post-reproductive lives

Caffeine High, January 17, 1988

Coffee’s a drug that works on the brain—but a pretty safe one

Kick Off Your Heels, January 31, 1988

High-heeled shoes are a sex symbol with a long-term down side 

Lesions of the Soul, February 21, 1988

Unlike other cancers, those in the brain are inside our selves

Laughter and Hope, March 13, 1988

Mind over illness? Maybe, but don’t blame the victim if it doesn’t work

Symbolic Wound, May 8, 1988

Circumcision is safe, but in our culture is not medically necessary

What Our Ancestors Ate, June 5, 1988

Are diseases of civilization due to a mismatch with natural diets?

New Keys to the Mind, July 17, 1988

Genes that affect the brain affect the mind, normal or not

The Aggressors, August 14, 1988

Boys are more violent than girls, but not just for cultural reasons

Civilization’s Cancer, November 20, 1988

Is breast cancer due in part to our changing reproductive lives?

Mortality, December 4, 1988

Aging and death are not easy to deal with in any culture

Which Hospital? December 18, 1988

Academic and community hospitals have different advantages

Where Should Baby Sleep? January 8, 1989

Many parents spend part of the night with children in their beds

Homosexuality: Who and Why? April 21, 1989

Growing evidence suggests that being gay is not a choice

The Loss of Self, June 25, 1989

Alzheimer’s and other dementias: “the calamity of too long life”

The Long Haul, July 9, 1989

Some stroke victims improve over the years by rewiring the brain

Women and Sexuality, April 29, 1990

Women and men differ a lot, and for biological reasons

Real Doctors Don’t Sleep, October 7, 1990

An imagined account of a real problem in medical training

Out of the Darkness, October 2, 1994

Living with depression, benefiting from treatment

Essays in The Sciences

Birth Rites. The Sciences, Nov/Dec86, Vol. 26 (6), p. 6.

Cuisine Sauvage. The Sciences, Sep/Oct85, Vol. 25(5), p. 6.

Everyman. The Sciences, Nov/Dec88, Vol. 28(6), p. 6.

False Idylls. The Sciences, Sep/Oct87, Vol. 27(5), p. 8.

Hands and Minds. The Sciences, Jul/Aug85, Vol. 25(4), p. 8.

In The Sisterhood of Seduction. The Sciences, Jan/Feb85, Vol. 25(1), p. 48.

Is Orgasm Essential? The Sciences, Mar/Apr88, Vol. 28(2), p. 4.

Love Among the Robots. The Sciences, Mar/Apr87, Vol. 27(2), p. 12.

Minding the Pain. The Sciences, Jan/Feb90, Vol. 30(1), p. 6.

Not to Be. The Sciences, Jan/Feb86, Vol. 26(1), p. 2.

Why the Reckless Survive. The Sciences, May/Jun87, Vol. 27(3), p. 2.

Art of Darkness. The Sciences, Nov/Dec89, Vol. 29(6), p. 2.

Revolutionary Biology. The Sciences, May/Jun86, Vol. 26(3), p. 6.

The Gender Option. The Sciences, Nov/Dec87, Vol. 27(6), p. 2.

The Many Faces of Madness. The Sciences, Jul/Aug87, Vol. 27(4), p. 6.

The Nursing Knot. The Sciences, Nov/Dec85, Vol. 25(6), p. 10.

The Riddle of the Smile. The Sciences, Sep/Oct86, Vol. 26(5), p. 4.

The Stranger. The Sciences, Mar/Apr86, Vol. 26(2), p. 6.

Too Desperate a Cure? The Sciences, May/Jun88, Vol. 28(3), p. 6.

Transcendental Medication. The Sciences, May/Jun85, Vol. 25(3), p. 2.


Essays in Various Publications (Selected)

Why Be Good? Minding Nature, Vol 9 No 3 Sept 2016.

Assume we know what “being good” is. Does culture help, hurt, or what?

A Better World, Run by Women. The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2015.

Male biology has brought the world war, corruption and scandal. Women are poised to lead us to a better place.

The Jewish Body? What is That? (Der jüdische Körper? Was ist das?)  Jewish Museum of Berlin Journal, 2014.

The answer is complex, ancient and modern, sad and joyful.

21st Century Vindications of Darwin. The Los Angeles Review of Books, July 31, 2012.

Darwin’s prediction that his theory would shed light on us has won the day in the modern behavioral and social sciences.

How Childhood Has Evolved. Chronicle of Higher Education/The Chronicle Review, May 9, 2010

How I came to write The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind, and why it may be my most important book.

Darwin’s Truth, Jefferson’s Vision. Sociobiology and the Politics of Human Nature. American Prospect, July-August 1999

The Founders explicitly understood human nature, which is why they wrote the Constitution as they did.

Homosexuality. Encyclopedia Americana, 1991 edition.

My attempt, at the general editor’s invitation, to provide the basics for someone who might be wondering in, say, a small town library in Nebraska.

Childhood and the Family: An Anthropological View. Schoolbook, Winter 1990, Vol I, No I

Understanding the family’s origins and variety can be liberating for parents.

Caveman’s Legacy. Longevity, August 1990

Risk-taking, bad habits, and other costs of having evolved.

The “I” of the Storm. Los Angeles Times Magazine, January 8, 1989

How much does mental illness mitigate responsibility?

The Dawn of Wonder. Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin, Summer 1988

This crucial human trait lies deep in our evolutionary history. (Excerpt from The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit; also published in Psychology Today in 1982.

A Bias for Boys. American Baby’s Childbirth Educator, Summer 1988

Some countries abort and neglect girls, with dire future consequences.

In the Social Machine. Massachusetts Medicine, Nov.-Dec. 1987, Vol 2, No 6.

Even the modern science of healing makes no sense except in a social context.

Ear-benders, Pencil-pushers, and Other Improbable Heros. Massachusetts Medicine, July-Aug. 1986, Vol 1, No 4.

Some people do great things for human health just by talking, calculating, and writing.

She & He: Different Brains? Science82, September 1982

Sex differences start in the genes, trigger the hormones, shape the brain, and direct behavior.



Essays About & Interviews with Melvin Konner:

“Of archaeopteryx, the !Kung San, and dendrite spines,” by Philip Zaleski. Harvard Magazine, Sep.-Oct. 1982

Interview about The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, and a personal view of human nature

“The Shape of the Human Spirit,” by Jan DeBlieu. Emory Magazine, August 1984

Interview/profile about a lifetime commitment to understanding human nature.

“Culla a tre Piazza,” by Claudio Gatti. Europeo, Feb. 3, 1989 

Interview/article in the leading Italian magazine Europeo on parent-infant co-sleeping.

“Why Your Kids Act the Way They Do,” by Thomas Rogers., May 31, 2010

Interview about The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind

“Catching Up With Kids,” by Terence Monmaney. Smithsonian Magazine, July-Aug. 2010

Interview about The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind

“The Ascent of Woman: Time to Accept It,” by Barbara McMahon. The Times of London (Times 2)March 30, 2015

Interview about Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy

“The End of Gender Roles,” by Maura Hohman.” U.S. News & World Report, April 2, 2015

Interview about Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy