It seems to me that as soon as he entered this world as "Kamin" he would try to do something about it. Even if the Kataans didn't know how to build a subspace transceiver, he likely would have known how to. This is due to the steep technical requirements associated with being a Star Fleet Officer. Successfully building one would have probably demonstrated to him that things were not right in the universe.

Even five years into the simulation he is still exhibiting his superior technical knowledge:

He suggests to the visiting administrator that atmospheric condensers are needed to survive the extended drought they are currently experiencing. His ideas are rejected... (memory-alpha)

And yet despite the counsel's refusal to save themselves, Picard decides to believe the simulation rather than question it.

He builds a laboratory, he develops an advanced sunscreen, and yet no one is willing to use the things he wants them to. He should have been able to see that all was not as it should be in the world.

  • 7
    I think it had just been too long, there wasn't any point in questioning his new existence anymore because it had become an inescapable reality. Jan 24, 2012 at 16:43
  • 1
    Are we sure Picard was in a simulation - or did the probe implant enough false memories into his head to create the illusion of a lifetime of experiences? In which case Picard wasn't really an active participant.
    – RobertF
    Jan 7, 2015 at 16:59
  • 4
    He would have to start by building a rudimentary lathe.
    – Omegacron
    Sep 4, 2015 at 19:12
  • 3
    "He could just build a subspace transceiver" - "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."
    – JohnP
    Sep 4, 2015 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


What would have been the use in continuing to question the simulation? The people there had no way off the planet; rocketry was a very new science for them even towards the end of the simulation. And even if Picard knew how to build a subspace communication device, would he have been able to find the necessary supplies and materials on a relatively low technology planet?

It is also entirely conceivable that the program in the probe assisted the participant in forgetting about the real world, or at least in suppressing it, through the use of behavioral aids (feel good when not thinking about it, feel pain when are, etc).

In the end, however, I would say that the perceived duration of elapsed time was the greatest reason for Picard forgetting about his life on the Enterprise. He easily lived 20~30 years there, it was entirely real to him and he was quite happy for most of it. Therefore had no reason to continue to believe in real world.


The probe had a lot to convey, so it couldn't let Picard out until it was done. So, it had to be able to overwhelm or suppress his ability to question the simulation. When he first awakens in the simulation, he's obviously disoriented, but without any clues that it in fact is just a simulation (he only has his personal memories which are discounted as fevered dreams), he is forced to accept the experience as reality. A bit like the Matrix without a Morpheus to phone in or offer the red/blue pills.


The probe was basically an interactive computer simulation designed to share a culture that was dying and would be dead within a generation. It wasn't set up as a game to be 'beaten' but a culture to be experienced.

He couldn't do anything about that civilization dying because it was already long gone. No matter what Picard did or tried to do, it wouldn't have changed the outcome. The planet was already destroyed and the civilization long gone. He was there simply to learn first hand what happened, who those people were and how they lived and how they died. He was basically a character in a high-tech interactive book that was already written.

They were a noble people who wanted to share their legacy and be remembered.

  • While everything said here is completely correct, how does this answer the question? At the time of experiencing life on Kataan, Picard knows none of this, nor that his experience definitely is some sort of a simulation in the first place. The question is not why he effectively cannot prevent the extinction of Kamin's people, but why he doesn't try harder to get back from Kataan to the Enterprise. Dec 31, 2022 at 9:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.