How MSG Got A Bad Rap: Flawed Science And Xenophobia

Below are a few resources that explore the myth of MSG (food additive) being bad for you. This case demonstrates the intersection of various TOK concepts include how we produce knowledge in the natural sciences, the role of intuition in acquiring knowledge, and why we have such a hard time changing our minds once we believe something to be true.

That MSG causes health problems may have thrived on racially charged biases from the outset. Ian Mosby, a food historian, wrote in a 2009 paper titled “‘That Won-Ton Soup Headache’: The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, MSG and the Making of American Food, 1968-1980” that fear of MSG in Chinese food is part of the U.S.’s long history of viewing the “exotic” cuisine of Asia as dangerous or dirty. As Sand put it: “It was the misfortune of Chinese cooks to be caught with the white powder by their stoves when the once-praised flavor enhancer suddenly became a chemical additive.”

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-msg-got-a-bad-rap-flawed-science-and-xenophobia/

This American Life: The Long Fuse (prologue and Part 1)

In this episode, the hosts explore the the MSG myth and in the process also demonstrate the challenges we face when constructing knowledge about the past

Since the ’90s, the FDA has listed MSG as perfectly safe for its intended use, like vinegar, salt, pepper. Today on our show, we have three stories like this one, where people throw words out into the world that take on a totally unexpected life of their own. And in all these stories, the words wreak havoc for years.

Episode: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/668/the-long-fuse

Transcript: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/668/transcript

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