Once, some new neighbors, a young couple from Nebraska, saw me engaged in auto repair after some goofball from Ohio tried to park his car within mine.
So, a day or two later, they came knocking in the hopes that I would help them with something automotive ... the complex action of changing a license plate. They were so appreciative that the girl came by later with homemade cookies, and a thank you note I still have to this day.
All I did was demonstrate a screwdriver, but suddenly I was Montgomery Scott with a Trip Tucker launcher in my pocket and I could poop astromechs and Exocomps.
The reason I tell this story is not to make fun of those people. After all, if screwing was such an elusive mystery, we need not worry about them breeding. Although, perhaps their issue was that they'd just kept poking the plate screws assuming something would eventually pop out ... I don't know.
But consider that in the modern era, we have extraordinary technology, much of it virtually unthinkable a century ago, and daily users of that technology who haven't the slightest idea how any of it works, nor do they care to know. As people so often point out, we have virtually the sum of human knowledge available online and thus, for many, literally in a pocket or on a hip, and yet we spend time on funny cat pictures, Daily Kos, porn, and other mindless, hollow pursuits.
This is bound to get worse as technology continues to get weirder, which brings me to Starfleet Academy.
Nog is a particularly interesting fellow in this light. In "The Jem'Hadar"[DSN2], Jake is O'Brien's temporary helper and obviously vastly outshines Nog in tech skill.
But by the Dominion War, not only is Nog far superior in tech skill, but he is even briefly the chief engineer of a starship full of senior cadets, and not implausibly so. This speaks very well for his training.
To be sure, some of this is probably in the genes, as his father was an idiot savant when it came to technology. And some was willpower, as it was clear that Nog applied himself and gave his all, even to worrisome, cliche levels.
Still, though, you don't go from Nebraskan iPhone user with screwdriver problems to high-level nuclear sub reactor technician in three years without some incredible training and educational programs. Being a good engineer requires more than just memorization, it requires understanding. Nog clearly achieved that in record time.
And considering how far the Academy likely has to carry cadets given the proverbial iPhone users of the 24th Century, so separated from the means of production and work that food and baubles both really do come out of thin air, that sort of thing speaks very well for the Academy academics.