He was one of the greatest Culture Warriors of our time – a towering intellect who possessed that rare combination of professional credentials and an indefatigable combative spirit. Having grown up in communist Russia and being an outspoken critic of Marxism (he was actually punished in Soviet gulags for his political views), Perakh might have used his considerable writing skills to become the next Alexandr Solzhenitzyn, arguing forcefully and eloquently against the abuses of Stalinism which took the lives of tens of millions. But he knew that there was an even more insidious and treacherous enemy that must be defeated: Intelligent Design.
As Mark wrote in 2006:
"it is ID advocates whose behavior is reminiscent of the oppressive Soviet regime."
Perakh was well aware of the fact that Intelligent Design advocates were eager to become like the Soviet and Nazi regimes which had murdered over 50,000,000 people, so he put all of his energies into defeating them at every turn.
"The ID advocates have no Gestapo or KGB at their disposal, so they can't muzzle their opponents as the Nazis and the Soviet communists did. However, as becomes clear from their publications (see, for example Johnson's Darwin on Trial), putting their opponents on trial (whose outcome — a verdict of guilty – would be easily predictable) is the ID advocates' sweetest dream."
Perakh was quick to note the similarities between ID proponents and totalitarian governments.
"it is the ID advocates who behave in a way similar to the Soviet communists and the Nazis, the two groups sent to the ash heap of history."
Having been a scientist in the Soviet system, Perakh was well aware of the horrific abuses of the notorious Trofim Lysenko, the Soviet scientist who infamously killed or imprisoned anyone who would dare disagree with him. He remembers vividly Lysenko's "bony, sharp-nosed peasant face." Mark became outraged when some Intelligent Design advocates began acting just like Trofim Lysenko! He decided to boldly speak the truth even though their wrath was certain to fall on him:
"My experience shows clearly that behavior and methods of dispute of the ID advocates are much closer to the behavior of Lysenkoists, Soviet authorities, or Nazis, than is the behavior of their opponents."
Key to identifying the Nazi-like tendencies of ID proponents, Perakh said, is their tendency to praise one another without ceasing – something which critics of Intelligent Design have never been known to do.
"The German nation was officially proclaimed to be the most authentic incarnation of these mythical Aryans, and everything German was acclaimed in superlative terms very much like the ID advocates incessantly praise themselves and their colleagues. Their opponents never do so."
This led to Perakh's book "Unintelligent Design" – a direct refutation of William Dembski's book "Intelligent Design" along with many other leading Intelligent Design proponents. It is speculated but not known whether Dembski made an attempt to jail or kill Perakh at that time.
In 1941 Mark Perakh fought against the Nazis for his Motherland and later was part of the Russian occupying force in Germany. Being fluent in German, Mark was able to read much of the Nazi propaganda that was left behind and noticed the precise similarities between ID proponent Jonathan Wells' propaganda and the anti-Jewish propaganda of Joseph Goebbels which led to the extermination of 6 million Jews.
"When Wells writes that after meeting [Anti-IDists Kenneth] Miller and [Lawrence] Krauss he needs to take shower, it is an equivalent of those Nazi and Soviet cartoons except that this time the picture is in words rather than in graphics."
Perakh was well known for being civil yet firm in his discourse. As he wrote:
"I admit that calling a person an ignoramus is not very polite, and I do not enjoy at all the situations in which I have reason to resort to such epithets…it is always hard to argue with ignoramuses"
-Signature of an Ignoramus, by Mark Perakh
But in a war like the Culture War it is sometimes necessary to fight with every weapon at your disposal.
As a working scientist who published over 300 papers, and as an eyewitness to the tragedy of Lysenkoism, Parakh was in a unique position to offer a scathing critique of the corruption within the scientific establishment. In an era defined by rampant scientific fraud, over $100,000,000 per year wasted on misconduct, and over 50% of research findings turning out to be false, Mark decided to confront one of the world's greatest threats to science: The Bible Code. His in-depth, exhaustive investigation into The Bible Code resulted in an exposé of bible numerology that was completely devastating to the Intelligent Design claim that there are lots of secret hidden messages in the bible.
“Finally, I came to the conclusion that 'The Bible Code' is a fiction. There is no code.”
The Culture War owes a debt of gratitude to this great warrior. Telic Thoughts would like to express our condolences to his friends and family. He will certainly be missed.