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283 of 314 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Read it. Loan it out to friends.
Perakh organized his text into three sections. The first two take up issues of creationism, first Intelligent Design (ID), and second the earlier but still influential Scientific Creationism. Significant authors from each of these pseudosciences are addressed in their own chapters. William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Phillip Johnson are the ID representatives. Perakh's...
Published on March 10, 2004 by Gary S. Hurd

versus
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, bad, and indifferent (and a misleading title)
This is actually three books in one, none of which actually relates to the title (more on that later). Unfortunately this does not translate into more value for money, as it really should have been divided into at least two books, given the diverse subject matter.

Part I (Chapters 1-3): 5 stars

In these first chapters, the author presents a...
Published on February 12, 2006 by Joseph Kaiser Canner


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283 of 314 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Read it. Loan it out to friends., March 10, 2004
By 
Gary S. Hurd "Dr.GH" (Dana Point, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
Perakh organized his text into three sections. The first two take up issues of creationism, first Intelligent Design (ID), and second the earlier but still influential Scientific Creationism. Significant authors from each of these pseudosciences are addressed in their own chapters. William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Phillip Johnson are the ID representatives. Perakh's thorough demolishment of Dembski's thesis in Chapter 1 (the longest single chapter) alone is worth the price of the book. Not only was Perakh thorough, but understandable using clear language and reasoning. His many years as a teacher are obvious in these pages.
I had expected that this would be the only highlight of the book, but there is a considerable amount of good reading in the seven chapter second section addressing the Creation Science authors. What I particularly enjoyed was that Perakh did not merely stay with the well known ultra-biblical-literalists from the Christian Right, but also addressed Judaic creationists in four chapters. In fact, there were only 3 out of the first 317 pages that I had any quibble with, and these (290-292) are the reactions of a specialist toward a generalist. I shudder to imagine what Perakh could do to any attempt on my part to write about physics.
A "reader from Riesel, TX" wrote an unfavorable review of Mark Perakh's new book last December. Bill Dembski was "outed" as the "reader from Riesel, TX" by the Amazon (Canada) software glitch a month or so ago. I would have suspected this anyway, as "reader from Riesel" nee "Waco" is typical of Dembski's other responses to critics -- attack obliquely, avoid their actual positions, claim that their criticisms have been addressed elsewhere, or that you will totally answer them in your next book.
If you have too much time and too much money, I suggest that you follow Dembski's advice to "read the primary <creationist> literature." Then you should read Perakh's _Unintelligent Design_ to learn how you have wasted your time and money. Otherwise, just read Perakh's excellent book.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional but very successful, December 23, 2003
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
A new player seems to have appeared on the field, and he seems to be indeed a good player. There have been many books published which approach the Intelligent Design-related controversy from various vantage points, and some of them have been quite good.
To find an additional niche for another book was not an easy task. Perakh, in my view, has done it quite successfully - his book is unlike any other published so far about Intelligent Design or about biblical neo-apologetics.
The format of this book is rather unconventional - it is built around a set of publications (books and articles) by, first, the most prominent defenders of the Intelligent Design and, second, by some Christian and Jewish writers, all of whom Perakh unequivocally debunks.
I was impressed by the strict logic of Perakh's narrative. For example, after having read chapter 1, which contains a very meticulous analysis of publications by William Dembski (perhaps the most prominent champion of Intelligent Design), I could not help but to say to myself, "Gee, the king is naked." Using unrelenting logic, Perakh has demonstrated the lack of substance in Dembski's theory, whose quasi-mathematical appearance serves as pure embellishment covering the lack of meaningful contents.
I will be looking for other publications by Perakh, starting from his posts on the Talk Reason web site. Welcome to the fray, Perakh, you get five stars from me.
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195 of 223 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the effort, February 20, 2004
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
I've been reading about the creationism/evolution debate for twenty years now, and this book is an extremely important addition to that discussion. Perakh has two basic points as he works his way through the major advocates of ID (Intelligent Design). One is that they misuse statistics is ways that are intuitively reasonable but ultimately incorrect. This is why he includes a discussion of the Bible Code, another case of statistics gone awry.
His second point, and one that I hadn't seen spelled out so well before, is that the idea of irreducible complexity is a jumbled compilation of observations which Paley and others have offered much more clearly long ago. Perakh breaks down each component of irreducible complexity and shows how it does not justify the strong claims made for it by ID theorists.
My frustration in all of this is that the people who most need to read this book aren't going to take the time and effort necessary to engage in his arguments.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High calibre thinking, but occasionally dry and difficult., December 13, 2005
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gjc (Perth, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
Given the title, I had expected to see humorous examples of bad "design" in nature, as a demonstration that nature was most likely not designed. For example, ground dwelling parrots in New Zealand who are highly vulnerable to predators and have a very difficult time locating mates because their calls echo too much, or the problems with the human legs, spine, and hips that come from incomplete evolution from pre-humans to walking people. I was a little disappointed that similar examples of "unintelligent design" weren't covered. Nevertheless, it's a good book.

Professor Perakh's book is written as a series of book reviews and critiques, with a couple of chapters toward the end on what science is and how probabilities are determined. His reviews start with the chief proponents of intelligent design theories, and move on to others who have tried to reconcile science and religious texts.

I found that this book was occasionally dry and difficult to read. I have to confess that I put some of my difficulty in reading this book down to the fact that its author is a physicist, and I am not used to the style of that discipline. Although this book is intended for a general audience, the author's professional area of expertise does strongly influence the style, content, and focus.

Having said that the book is sometimes difficult, I found that I could understand the challenging sections with a little effort and re-reading. That aside, what was very striking is that, at times, beautifully clear and incisive points made by the author criticizing proponents of "intelligent design" theories jump off the page. There is some truly razor-sharp logical and evidentiary analysis.

In my opinion, it is particularly the first 138 pages of the book, dealing with the work of Dembski and Behe, that are the hardest to follow. Part of dryness has to do with the fact that in critiquing Dembski the author has to quote heavily from Dembski's work, and Dembski's work seems to be characterized by deliberate obscuritanism. One of the spotlight reviews describes this book as "Well worth the effort". I agree, it is.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that is cleaning up the mess, December 23, 2003
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
To anybody who wishes to keep abreast with the fight between ID advocates and their detractors this book is a must.
I have used the word fight deliberately - the dispute in question is not much like a normal dispute in science but is often redolent of a skirmish between two street gangs. Though this book has its (small) share of emotional outbursts, on the whole is remarkable by its restrained tone as its author, whose sympathies clearly belong to the anti-ID camp, obviously intends to be as objective as possible. When his critique of errors by some of the writers who are objects of his debunking effort may sometimes sound quite harsh, it is usually simply a result of the gravity of their errors.
It may be an unrewarding job to clean up the mess created by under-qualified contributors to the discussion, but this is a job which is necessary and I think we have to be grateful to Perakh for endeavoring to perform such cleansing.
Given the emotional atmosphere in the fight between Intelligent Design and anti-ID groups, the tone of Perakh's book may in fact be judged to be quite moderate. The important point is, though, that Perakh's discourse, which reveals his extensive knowledge of the subject, is convincing throughout and ensures his book a rightful place among five-star choices.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up to the task on all levels, December 23, 2003
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
It is hard to say which part of Perakh's book is more important!
That dealing with the upper stratum of Intelligent Design (represented, for example, by Michael Behe and William Dembski) or that debunking the writing of the lesser proponents of the neo-creationism (such as Ross, and Heeren). Perakh is up to the task on both counts!
When discussing the mathematic-looking notions by Dembski or the Irreducible Complexity thesis by Behe, this author demonstrates his ability to discern logical loopholes in the complex and seemingly more sophisticated theories of these generals of the ID movement; he is equally apt at showing the sometimes amazingly crude elementary errors committed by some holders of PhD degrees who stick to a discourse addressed to a less sophisticated readership.
I have no doubt! This book will cause serious discomfort to some members of the anti-evolution crowd (although Perakh talks very little about evolution as such) including those who boast long lists of degrees and publications but use as their main arguments ad-hominem remarks and innuendos. Perhaps Perakh will now become a new target of their assaults, but this only will serve as a badge of honor.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching a nerve?, September 20, 2004
By 
Taner Edis (Kirksville, MO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
I hope some of the pro-ID reviews appearing here, though incoherent, indicate that this book is being read and is touching a nerve. For it is a good book, and should be thought-provoking no matter what the previous opinion about intelligent design the reader brings to the table.

I would especially recommend the book not just because of its treatment of Behe, Dembski, Johnson & Co, but because of its analysis of some less well-known conservative Jewish apologists. This provides valuable context, and illustrates how the themes of ID are not just conservative Christian preoccupations.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Perakh confronts creationist's claim to be science, September 20, 2004
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This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
This excellent book deals in depth with the arguments of those who attempt to use science in support of supernaturalism, especially the variation of that effort called "intelligent design" or ID. Perakh exposes ID as just another creationist movement, not unlike William Paley's famous argument for design based on the perception that a watch found on the beach must have been designed. He shows how its principal architect, mathematician and preacher William Dembski, who masks his argument in unnecessary confusing and contradictory mathematical jargon, frequently contradicts himself and fails to prove what he claims.

Perakh also answers the claims of ID advocates such as biochemist, Michael Behe and retired law professor, Philip Johnson. Perakh says Behe is actually not arguing about irreducible complexity but complexity that produces functionality, which Behe believes must therefore have been designed. Intelligent design however produces functionality through simplicity, not complexity. Perakh sees Jonson as a dilettante with no scientific credentials and whose views are not really different from other creationists who oppose evolution because of their religious views.

Perakh also considers a number of other less well known crusaders for biblical inerrancy including astronomer and defender of the faith, Hugh Ross. Perakh interestingly points out technical errors by Ross and shows the arguments of these apologists to rest on assumptions and assertions rather than logic.

Personally, I enjoyed most the final chapter, which deals with the Bible Codes that use equidistant letter sequences (ELS) to find messages in the Bible. But interesting messages can be found using the same technique in non-biblical books. Perakh has lived and worked in Israel and knows those originally involved in developing the Codes. This and his knowledge of Hebrew and mathematics has made him a principal player among those who have shown statistically that the Bible Codes prove nothing.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just what the doctor ordered, December 23, 2003
By 
Dr B D McKay (Canberra, ACT Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
As someone who is very familiar with a wide range of pseudoscientific literature from Bible codes to creation myths masquerading as astrophysics, I can report that this book is a classic both in the breadth and depth of its coverage. Perakh's life as a professional scientist gave him the skills to see right through the fog of notational obfiscation that has lately be used by the pseudoscientists to disguise the paucity of their case, and he applies these skills with merciless precision. Definitely a must-read.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My impression, December 16, 2003
By 
Michael Tentler (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unintelligent Design (Hardcover)
I wish Amazon's classification had more than 5 stars so I could choose an even higher mark. The need for such a book is long overdue. Perakh is a scientist with many years of research and publications behind him and is eminently qualified to provide a lucid and well substantiated analysis of the Intelligent Design conceptual system as well as of the lower tier of creationist literature. His dissection of Dembski's prolific output is detailed, very logical, and highly convincing. While Perakh devotes less space to the critique of Behe and Johnson, he succeeds in dismantling the arguments of these two principal proponents of Intelligent Design by pinpointing the most vulnerable elements in their discourse. Perhaps a torrent of abusive vituperation in regard to Perakh's book can now be expected from the fellows of the Discovery Institute and their cohorts. Any unbiased reader must, however, admit the force of Perakh's analysis
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Unintelligent Design
Unintelligent Design by Mark Perakh (Hardcover - December 1, 2003)
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