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In TNG: Hide and Q Commander Riker is given the powers of the Q and is about to make Data human, but Data says,

Yes, sir, that is true. But I never wanted to compound one illusion with another. It might be real to Q, perhaps even you, sir. But it would not be so to me.

What did he mean by that?

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    You might want to add in the rest of the quote; "Was it not one of the Captain's favourite authors who wrote, This above all, to thine own self be true?" – Valorum Jun 24 '16 at 20:04
  • @Valorum oh yeah, could you add that? – Darren Jun 24 '16 at 20:09
  • You can edit your own questions by clicking >>> this <<< button – Valorum Jun 24 '16 at 20:15
  • Perhaps the real question is why did he not let QRiker temporarily turn him biologically human. Just for a day, then he automatically reverts (just in case). – pleurocoelus Jun 25 '16 at 12:34
  • Because it is the path that matters, not the destination. – Overmind Jun 27 '16 at 7:26
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Opinion:

This is just a few episodes after "Encounter at Farpoint" where Riker, upon meeting Data, calls him "Pinocchio" which is about a mechanical boy who becomes real via magic. Naturally, Riker thinks he can fulfill this Pinocchio scenario for Data. Yet, Data's "desire" to be human isn't to become an actual human being with flesh and bones, but to be human on an emotional level. It is part of his programming and nature to push beyond his programming to be something more. Having Q-Riker snap his fingers and instantly give Data human emotions is a cheap trick / cheat. For Data, he is saying the process is just as important as the end goal. He is also questioning whether it would even be real or would it be an illusion. If it is illusion, then he does not want to be deceived - he'd rather live truthfully as an android than live a lie thinking he is human.

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