Seeing and Believing

Would you find this more/less beautiful depending on which sentence you believe to be true?

A.  The color is the result of dye being added upstream as an April Fool's joke.
B.  That's the color of blood--the result of a huge massacre upstream.
C.  The color is a natural result of minerals stirred up by heavy rains.

Not tellin' which is true (yet). Photo credit:  Rochelle Coffey, National Geographic.

UPDATE: OK, it's C.  The picture made me think of a passage about how we value wildness in an article by Ned Hettinger and Bill Throop.
Imagine how visitors to Yellowstone would feel about Old Faithful if they thought that the National Park Service put soap into the geyser to regulate and enhance its eruptions...People value more highly what is less subject to human alteration or control than a more humanized variant of the same phenomenon.
I react as they predict--believing A would make me find the scene less beautiful than believing C.  Of course, wildness is not an "absolute value."  If I believed B (and believed the massacre was a matter of normal predation), I'd find the color disturbing, not beautiful.  But wildness is something I (we) value.  That colors my thinking about lots of issues...

Quick segue to Matzoh Ball soup.  Seriously. Three ways to make it--

A.  Use fake chicken stock--tastes just like the real thing.  Lots of strange words in the list of ingredients.
B.  Use real dead chickens.
C.  Make rich vegetable stock from scratch.

Is the fakery of A unappealing, like the fakery of dyeing the falls red?  Is the carnage of B unappealing, like the massacre turning the falls red?  Is C the ethical aesthete's best choice? 


Faust said...

Honestly I thought it looked gross without reading my options. The water below looks like soupy mud, and I imagined my self jumping in...not appetizing no matter what the cause.

Paul Hutton said...

A) I'd be annoyed someone would do that!
B) I'd find that quite unsettling
C) I'd find it interesting, but not all that beautiful I'm afraid!

Anonymous said...

For B and C, I'd find it more beautiful (although also unsettling in the case of B). Knowing that it's just added dye in the case of A would make it less beautiful.

Wayne said...

Hmm... Contextual dependent beauty. I happen to know the answer, since I saw the picture before you posted it, but you're right that in cases A and B that it isn't really beautiful, but in case C it might be beautiful. (I'm not sure if that is what you're getting at, but that what I'm taking from it.)