Michael Balter was born in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and grew up in Los Angeles. As a journalist he worked first at Pacifica’s Los Angeles station, KPFK, and then as a freelance writer for the L.A. Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles magazine, among others. He was also an oral historian at UCLA’s Oral History Program. During the early 1980s, he worked on the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against L.A.’s police department for spying on peaceful political groups. In 1988, Balter moved to Paris, where he wrote for the International Herald Tribune, Islands, Travel & Leisure, Bon Appétit, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among many others. From 1993-2002 he was Paris bureau chief for Science, and then worked for the magazine as a Contributing Correspondent, focusing on archaeology and human evolution, until 2016. He is the author of The Goddess and the Bull, about the excavations at Neolithic Catalhoyuk in Turkey and the origins of civilization.
Balter currently contributes to Scientific American, Audubon, The Verge, and other publications. He divides his time between Paris and New York City, where from 2010 to 2015 he taught science, health and environmental journalism at New York University.