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Summary

Paul calls up Alan Booker to continue their trek through the BBB, this time starting Chapter 2.

Chapter 2: Concepts and themes in design
This chapter introduces words like “Mollisonian”, which indicates that this is just one style of thinking, as opposed to the style of thinking.  The scientific method attempts to study the world one variable at a time whilst keeping other variables constant.  This worked very well for some fields, like physics, but biology isn’t so amenable to it.  The mere act of holding a variable steady or isolating another makes them behave differently.  Thus a different approach is required.

2.1: Introduction
A mechanistic system is like a clock – you can take it apart and understand it, whereas complex systems have emergent behaviours – studying one bee will not make it very obvious how the entire hive works.  Most human technologies are simply mechanistic and very difficult to make self-manage or regulate.  A complex system’s components exist to serve the whole but an ecosystem’s whole exists to serve the components.

2.2: Science and the thousand names of god
Laws apply best to mechanistic parts of the universe, like gravity.  Life systems are much more sophisticated and harder to be certain about their behaviour.  How much does math reflect reality?  2 apples plus another 2 equals 4, but what if one has worms in?  Is that a fraction of an apple?  Do patterns in math reflect the real world, or an artefact of the rules we made?
Some mathematicians feel that people sully the beauty of math by using it in engineering.  Some scientist believe that you can’t go to Mars unless there’s a white paper on it.  Sometimes science progresses one funeral at a time – the old guard simply defending their ideas regardless of new ideas.  Scepticism is good, but reducing it to a knee-jerk reaction is dumb.

2.3: Applying laws and principles to design

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