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In "The Schizoid Man," Data invites Geordi and Deanna to his quarters to ask their opinions of his beard. Geordi asks Data if he has damaged his face.

How can Geordi not recognize what a beard looks like? Commander Riker has a beard. Perhaps synthetic beards appear differently to Geordi than real ones.

  • 5
    "A subplot in Tormé’s script involved Data’s lack of ego; trimmed along with several of the scenes featuring Data’s beard was the original tag scene-already a legendary TNG story—in which he is seen trying yet again to emulate an admired and respected crew member. In this scene, to Picard’s chagrin, the android is bald." – Valorum Jun 25 '18 at 20:54
  • @Valorum Where is the cool quote from? – Ernest Friedman-Hill Jun 26 '18 at 1:21
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    Geordi's comment doesn't necessarily imply that he doesn't recognise a beard. Perhaps he was just teasing Data (which reminds me of some of the disparaging remarks characters make to Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster when he tries to grow a moustache), or it could be that Geordi was wondering if the beard was to cover something up (for example, in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp the titular character grows a moustache to hide a duelling scar). – Nicola Talbot Jun 26 '18 at 10:26
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    I find the premise of this question ridiculous and I'm surprised by the upvotes. At the very least, it should be giving the quote of what he actually said and asking about why be said that. Clearly Geordi not recognizing a beard is preposterous. – ThePopMachine Jun 26 '18 at 15:38
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    It shouldn't be interpreted as "what is this stuff on your face?", it should be interpreted as "why is there hair on your face?" – Martha Jun 26 '18 at 15:51
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The full transcript is:

(They go through to the inner room, and we see Data's reflection in a full length mirror. He is sporting a full set, a beard like Riker's)
LAFORGE: Did you damage your face, Data?
DATA: It is a beard, Geordi. A fine, full, dignified beard. One which commands respect and projects thoughtfulness and dignity. Well? Opinions?
TROI: It's er, very different.
DATA: When I stroke the beard thusly, do I not appear more intellectual?
TROI: I'm sorry, I have to go now. Goodbye.
(Troi leaves, quickly, laughing)
DATA: Why was she laughing?

It is clearly not the case that Geordi doesn't recognize a beard when he sees one. Obviously the entire scene is played somewhat for comic effect. The comment by Geordi can be understood as some combination of:

  • Rhetorical remark for comedic effect
  • Geordi probably didn't think Data was capable of growing a beard
  • Geordi may be guessing that the beard is simply applied to his face (not grown), which is likely. (But how exactly does Data's hair work to begin with?)
  • Geordi guesses that he may have applied it to cover up damage to his skin. (One assumes that it's easier to glue on a beard than to fix his integument.)
  • Geordi doesn't know what Data's motivation is (which Data then explains)

Bottom line: You're stretching too far. It's not that complicated and doesn't required an exotic explanation about why Geordi doesn't recognize beards. To quote @Martha: It shouldn't be interpreted as "what is this stuff on your face?", it should be interpreted as "why is there hair on your face?"

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    "Got some dirt on yer lip, there" - Said to every teen growing their first mustache evah. – JohnP Jun 26 '18 at 16:05
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    Since when does hair grow on Data's face when he damages it? Perhaps it was said for comedic effect. I don't think I'm stretching too far, though. – Ham Sandwich Jun 26 '18 at 17:57
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    It's not that it grew there. Geordi sees the beard and the only logical reason he can come up with for the absurd scene in front of him is that Data applied it to cover up damage. Similar to how one might see a coworker suddenly start wearing hats ALL THE TIME and make the guess that something happened to their hair. – Irishpanda Jun 26 '18 at 18:13
  • I guess. But Data doesn’t care what others think of him, so that seems to be a stretch. – Ham Sandwich Jun 26 '18 at 19:39
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    @HamSandwich: Clearly he does. It's right there in the transcript. "Do I not appear more intellectual?" He is exploring personal appearance and perception. – ThePopMachine Jun 27 '18 at 14:57

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