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60 SMT Magazine • August 2016 essary component in the success of the Ameri- can experiment in self-government. In a free society, vigorous verbal and writ- ten discourse, whether in our role as citizens or consumers, are important tools in affecting change. In 1839, the English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote, "the pen is mightier than the sword." In 2016, social media has created an ether of sorts that has many of us wallowing and flailing about in a big data soup that perme- ates our existence. In an ironic way we are con- fronted with a new challenge: there is so much data to wade through, much of it from dubious sources, that we are confronted with the task of separating the wheat from the chaff. As we used to say in the seventies "Is it real or is it Me- morex™?" In today's world of big data it's of- ten difficult to know what's real and what's not. How do we establish the veracity of what we are reading, or the goodness of the data we use to determine a cause and effect relationship—re- member red wine as a preventer of heart disease or eggs as a cause of heart disease—for all those years, all wrong! Big data in high-tech electronic product as- sembly provide a similar challenge. How do we decide what variable data are significant in con- trolling the process? Huge amounts of real time data are available. We need to understand the physics and statistics involved in the process to construct an assembly operation's infrastructure that will best maximize yields and minimize re- work. Design of experiments (DOE) is a useful tool, as are process capability studies. The point is that this is undergraduate level engineering work. These skills need to be taught during a person's post-secondary educational process. At one time, we called the ability to criticize and persuade the skill of rhetoric. This skill was actually taught in schools—not so much any- more unless you are studying to be a lawyer. This course has been replaced by classes such as diversity training and learning how not to hurt other people's feelings. And, the word rhetoric has taken on a pejorative meaning, connoting pretentiousness or empty talk. Civics and diplomacy were taught at one time, as well. These subjects gave us an under- standing of how our government worked and how to criticize a policy we disagreed with in a civilized (civil) way, but without the need to pull any punches. In the real world or even on college campuses (purportedly the sanctuary of free and diverse thought), this art form has been largely replaced with ad hominem attacks meant to destroy our adversary, personally as well as politically. Or, the opposite: such ex- treme political correctness, we fear our words being termed as a micro-aggression as much as we fear a terrorist act. Further, what we once called stereotyping—the assigning of charac- teristics and behaviors across groups, not an individual's behavior—we have added the ap- pellation of identity politics. Our positions on issues are now defined by others, using the de- mographic groups we occupy: economic, class, religion, ethnicity, etc., as the bucket in which we are placed. Finally, while our educational system tries to teach us to raise the level of our argument, not the level of our voice, our soci- ety has embraced a win at all costs objective. Just look at today's sports landscape: Cheating is okay as long as you don't get caught. Why? Well, everybody does it, don't they? This is the antithesis of virtue. As a culture and a society, embracing this sort of anything goes world- view puts us on the slippery slope to perdition. Here, Mr. Jefferson would be deeply concerned as he recognized that virtue was a necessary individual quality needed for the survival of self-government. To close the loop: each indi- vidual's liberal (note the small "l") education was one vehicle to each individual's virtue. In- dividual virtue permitted self-government, and self-government permitted an individual's lib- MOVING BEYOND PAIDEIA: LEARNING FOR EARNING " How do we decide what variable data are significant in controlling the process? Huge amounts of real time data are available. "

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