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

This American Life Podcast: Cops See it Differently

A really amazing two part podcast about policing in the United States. Through the different parts of this podcast, we hear from police departments and officers around the country and how they’re dealing with the challenges they face. What’s fascinating about this is the role of perspective and how different experiences affect how people see different situations. Part 2 Act 2 discusses the implicit association test and what a police department is doing about how to deal with implicit bias while policing. Part 2 Prologue is an interesting and short bit about a reporter watching the Eric Garner video with a friend who is a police officer and how the two of them see completely different things and interpret the video in very different ways.

Below are links for the full episodes.

Part I

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/547/cops-see-it-differently-part-one

Part II

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/548/cops-see-it-differently-part-two

This American Life Podcast: A Little Bit of Knowledge

“Bob Berenz had a good job as an electrician. But he wanted to do something bigger. He came up with an idea for an invention. But as he studied physics texts to see if his invention could work, he happened upon the biggest idea of his life: A revelation about physics that would disprove Einstein, and Newton. That is, if Bob’s right.”

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/293/a-little-bit-of-knowledge?act=3#play