The value of truth

After seeing this post on Dr Vino’s, I read the Slate article on fraud in the high-end wine market, and it made me think yet again about the notion of truth and its intrinsic value.

This question, of course, has been forever discussed by philosophers and recently in pop culture too (e.g. the red and blue pills in The Matrix). In a previous post, I wrote about the experimental evidence for how much knowledge – or rather, what we think we know about the experience we are having – influences the experience itself.

From the Slate article:

If a bottle of 1945 Mouton Rothschild has been filled with a $10 Australian Shiraz, an experienced taster should certainly be able to sniff out the fraud and may well deduce that the wine is New World plonk rather than a historic Bordeaux. But other phony wines may not be so easily unmasked. It is widely believed that some of the fake wines on the market have been fabricated by individuals who are themselves wine connoisseurs and who have a talent for producing counterfeits that can fool even the most discriminating palates.

Now, in the first case, if you buy a 1945 Mouton Rothschild for $114,614 and when you open it up it tastes like a $10 wine (I would write two-buck chuck, but then again, practically everything is a two-buck chuck next to a $100,000 bottle of wine), then you were certainly, to put it eloquently, screwed.

But what about the second case? If it looks like a 1945 Mouton Rothschild, costs like a 1945 Mouton Rothschild and actually tastes to you like a 1945 Mouton Rothschild, should you know that it is not, in fact, a 1945 Mouton Rothschild? It would appear that you got the full 1945 Mouton Rothschild experience. Does it matter at all that this is not the truth?

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