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ST Voyager "Demon":

DEMON KIM: We'd rather die than be alone. We deserve life.

JANEWAY: This silver blood that created you. It duplicated Harry without killing him. So you don't need our bodies, only samples of DNA. Release Voyager and I'll speak to my crew. And if they're willing, I'll let you duplicate the rest of us.

TUVOK [OC]: Bridge to Janeway. We've stopped, Captain. We're no longer submerging.

JANEWAY: Understood. We're getting out of here, Tuvok, but first assemble the crew in Cargo Bay one

So they know that they are not the actual crew and cut a deal for the DNA of the real crew, they also cannot breathe oxygen/nitrogen air.

ST Voyager "Oblivion":

CHAKOTAY: That wasn't B'Elanna. It was a duplicate. A biomimetic copy.

EMH: Copy?

TUVOK: We are all duplicates. None of us are real.

(Later, Janeway is looking at a flask of silver liquid.)

EMH: Behold the primordial soup.

JANEWAY: That's what created us?

CHAKOTAY: Not just us. The entire ship is composed of the same material.

EMH: It's a biomimetic compound that duplicated the crew's molecular structure so precisely that I would never have detected it, if I hadn't known what to look for.

JANEWAY: I was born on Earth in Indiana. I remember growing up there. I remember graduating from the Academy. I have no memory of being a copy. Somehow, after the real Voyager left, we began to forget we were duplicates.

EMH: Apparently, the original Kathryn Janeway's memories were duplicated as well.

CHAKOTAY: Eventually, we assumed their lives and set a course for Earth.

I was really confused by this episode.

How could the crew have forgotten that they were duplicates?

(Please don't make your answer what I already stated that Chakotay said "somehow they forgot" that's not an answer that's the question. Also if you want to address how they adapted their lungs somehow, also unknown to anybody including the doctor whose memory shouldn't be affected and how they created an identical starship with all of the technology, computer memory, etc. in place that'd be helpful as well and plays into the question.)

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    As you've noted, it's explicitly explained in the episode how it happened. – Valorum Jul 31 '15 at 22:01
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    @Richard there is a difference between "what" and "how" which is often, more than often in fact, lost on this site. That is why I asked the question the way I did and included an explanation and quotes as I mostly do. – JMFB Jul 31 '15 at 22:09
  • But the answer is "somehow" - it's called (TVTropes) Lampshade Hanging – Izkata Aug 1 '15 at 2:03
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    @Izkata often times even with a "somehow" Lampshade Hanging type of answer, there is further explanation. If not, probably half the questions on this site wouldn't be here. We'd just accept what happens and blissfully move on. Especially with a technical/scifi show like Star Trek where it's been watched, & re-watched so many times by so many fans. Often times the writers will give answers in interviews, or possibly the actors will make statements. Sometimes there's further information in handbooks or guides that are published. Sometimes canon or non-canon sources can be used to fill things in. – JMFB Aug 1 '15 at 4:06
  • Brilliant episode! I mean the one where (SPOILER!) the duplicates perish just before sending the message! So close to the real voyager. ONE MISTAKE though; When the real Voyager inspects the remains of the duplicate crew, they should have found the objects that were brought on-board after the demon planet. There was quite a lot of stuff, plus the message buoy they created with those materials. None were found in the debris. – n00dles Aug 24 '17 at 17:38
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They are exact duplicates, which means their memory engrams were duplicated as well, so they would have all of the memories of the original crew including the memories from before the time when they were created.

  • However they knew they were duplicates when they were left on the planet. They have a conversation with the original crew. After they were created they would start to have new memories that were uniquely their own and would continue to be a part of their new existence. Kind of hard to forget how you were made and when you come from, don't you think? – JMFB Dec 21 '15 at 17:37
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    @JMFB No, I think this makes perfect sense... sure you know where you came from, but it is now competing with all these new memories. Now you have the humanoid body, and you find you have to eat and sleep, and after a while you notice that when you sleep, like waking up from a dream and forgetting what you dreamed about, you start to forget what life was like before. It seems less and less important, so you don't think about it as much, and before you know about it, you have completely forgotten. – user11521 Jan 31 '16 at 0:51
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    When told of their real origins, they actually start to remember their lives before Voyager, and begin to yearn to return home to the demon planet. I agree completely with this answer and comments though. When Chakotay says "We assumed their lives", that's exactly how I interpreted it. – n00dles Aug 24 '17 at 17:33
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In the Demon Planet episode, the original duplicates, Harry and Tom do not know they are duplicates, even though they crawled out of goo that they themselves had been for possibly centuries. Why is it so hard to believe the dominance of memories of the forms they took overwhelmed them again? Especially now with an entire crew of duplicates and a duplicate ship. All those duplicates would themselves experience the same dominating mental condition of viewing themselves as originals. They simply slipped back into it. Like a drug induced state, or being partially awake. You can easily slip in and out of full consciousness.

  • Interesting idea which seem plausible, but are there any things which suggest they just felt original? – Edlothiad Sep 7 '17 at 5:44
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Somehow, after the real Voyager left, we began to forget we were duplicates.

My answer focuses solely on how they could forget, because you've explicitly marked the above quote which already proves that they forgot (so it's obviously not part of the question).

This seems to be nothing more than human nature. They forget that they are duplicates, because they haven't thought about it for a long time.

So, why did they stop thinking about it?

Because it invalidates them as an individual. It is a continual reminder that they are fake, not real, nothing more than a knock-off from the original. It diminishes the value of their life and how they feel about themselves.

There are cases where a character is cloned/duplicated, and the person and his clone exist peacefully alongside each other. However, they both end up being unhappy near each other, because they are no longer unique individuals, they feel (unintentionally) undercut by their equal counterpart.

One example I can think of is Doctor Who, where the Doctor (David Tennant) ends up with another copy of himself. This is resolved by sending the clone to an alternate universe (voluntarily), they both seem happier with this than being around each other.

People always try to forget the things that make them feel bad or sad. This is exactly why we have a name for it: repressed memories.

Repressed memories are memories that have been unconsciously blocked due to the memory being associated with a high level of stress or trauma.

The term repressed memory is sometimes compared to the term dissociative amnesia, which is defined in the DSM-V as an “inability to recall autobiographical information. This amnesia may be localized (i.e., an event or period of time), selective (i.e., a specific aspect of an event), or generalized (i.e., identity and life history).”

The duplicates have clashing memories: those of their human life (copied from the original), and those of their own life (being duplicates). Because the latter memories make them feel bad, they invariably end up focusing on the former memories, because it balances them on an emotional level.

Note that the linked article delves into the details from a medical perspective. Star Trek is a fictional series that does not necessarily observe the intricate details of human psychology, but it can still ground itself on the generalized concept of repressing memories.

Repressed memories are also listed as a trope:

One major controversy regarding Abusive Parents concerns people who grew up thinking they have a good family, and then 'recover' memories of childhood abuse. On one side, there is the belief that people (particularly children) can subconsciously choose to forget something that is too painful to remember, and on the other side, there is the belief that therapists or others could potentially implant false memories of abuse into a person's psyche.

Although the memory of being a duplicate does not relate to their parents, it does relate to the origins of the duplicate (their parentage, if you go by definition 1.1).

The tropes page also lists Star Trek Voyager among the examples, though it does not list the repressed memories of the duplicates, likely because this was never explicitly pulled into focus during the plot of the episode that you are referring to. This answer is merely an extended discussion as to the credibility of why the crew could have forgotten that they are duplicates.

  • How does this apply to the many aliens on board Voyager? – Valorum Sep 7 '17 at 10:53
  • @Valorum: Human behavior is not necessarily unique to humans. Everyone on board the voyager behaves in a way that is understandable to us humans. You're free to argue that this is forced by the writers to make the viewer connect to the aliens more (which is true, in my opinion. We would care less about an unemotional sentient ball of goo), but given that the characters are all capable of human(like) emotions, it's fair to assume that they are therefore prone to human behavior in general (except when explicitly contradicted, which is not the case for the repressed memories afaik). – Flater Sep 7 '17 at 10:56
  • @Valorum: Your question is a different version of asking why most recurring alien species are humanoid to begin with (bipedal, two arms, head on top). You're right that it should be equally likely for non-humanoid aliens to be shown and part of the Voyager crew, but this is an out-of-universe consideration by the writers, which has little bearing on the in-universe possibility of the humanoid aliens being able to repress bad memories. Note that nothing I've said hinges on being biologically human, I merely called the behavior "human", which is closer in meaning to "emotional, fallible" – Flater Sep 7 '17 at 10:59

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