Episode 252 – The One Where We Discover The Gay Gene On MSG Junkie – Patreon Freebie!

In This Week’s Show, episode 252, we eat our fabulous fill of umami-rich pod-shame.

In This Week’s Show, episode 252, we eat our fabulous fill of umami-rich pod-shame.

If you enjoyed today’s free, patreon cut of the show, consider subscribing at http://patreon.com/w4w!

Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Ponos (the Greek God of hard labor and toil) hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying their patience!

Jenn’s Actual Lesson

MSG is fine.

Actual lesson: Did you know that Heracles is the actual name of the Greek strongman known for the 12 labors. HERCULES is his Roman name.

Jim’s Good Gay News

Former NFL player Ryan Russell has come out as bisexual.  He’s trying to return to the league, and says he wants to do it while being open and honest.  Here’s hoping someone signs him again!

But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!

This Week’s Beer

Lazy Horse Blood Orange Ale – from Brendan

  • Aaron: 5
  • Jenn: 5
  • Jim: on his own (and his homemade rhubarb wine and strawberry wines are pretty tasty…and pretty potent)

This Week’s Show


Bear Bottom Bar & Grill – https://bearbottom307.com

Beer donations can be sent to:
2768 Wyoming Hwy 130
Centennial, Wyoming
Attn: Mr. Big Gay Jim

Episode 253

Necessary Evil from Manhattan Project Beer Company
Donated By: Aaron 

Beer Announcement #2 – Episode 254

Breck Lager – Breckenridge Brewery
From – RW

Jenn’s PSA- Don’t plagiarize, assholes

Today I’m going to share something that has really gotten me pissed off in the last few weeks, and it’s something that you, listeners of podcasts, should hear about.

Now I know in the last several months or so I’ve joked about some topics that I have crossed over with Citations Needed (and thanks all who let me know not to worry too much about it). But the truth is, I have been most concerned about any idea of copying them or their info. Full disclosure, I don’t listen to it myself but I take my research as seriously as I can when I’m trying to learn y’all facts about outlaw mummies and mysterious Russian everything.

Even from the beginning, we at W4W have worked very hard to announce our sources in the show, indicate where we are using direct quotes and link those used in the show notes. Well, most of us, probably not Shea. 

Now we’re a niche little show, and we’re definitely not changing the cultural landscape of podcasting or directly affecting the lives of other shows who may cover similar topics. But I’m talking about this today bc that actual thing is currently being unveiled, and has been happening for close to a year. 

If you’ve listened to our show for any length of time, you know that I’m a BIG fan of true crime, unsolved mysteries and the type of topic that gives Aaron nightmares. And I know some of you listeners enjoy that sort of stuff as well, but this covers more than just a narrow topic and just a few individuals or shows.

In case you haven’t heard, the true crime show Crime Junkie and its 2 female hosts have been revealed to be dirty cheaters. And this show had sat at #1 to #5 on the iTunes charts for the past several months. This show has MILLIONS of downloads, makes thousands on patreon, has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, etc. (I myself was one until a few weeks ago, and I’ve talked with a few of our listeners about the show before, so I know at least a few of y’all listen.)

A little bit of info on the actual scandal, but I won’t get too detailed. I WILL link to some articles and write-ups that do a much more thorough job and I FUCKING REFERENCE MY SOURCES:

The story itself gained public attention on August 11th when award winning journalist Cathy Frye made a post on Junkie’s Facebook merchandise page (eye roll) after being unable to get a response from the show in a more private form of communication. In late 2003 Ms. Frye had written an in-depth, excellent 4 part series called ‘Caught in the Web’ for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on the muder of a young girl named Kacie Woody. Now the reason this caught Frye’s attention is that for one, the case had received very little coverage (it had since been solved, the murderer was dead, etc) and for another, she had had months of extraordinary access to the family of the murdered girl and detectives who had worked the case. Basically she was THE person who covered the case, covered it well and was the go-to person. (If you enjoy reading TC nonfiction, I’ve linked the article in show notes. Very worthwhile reading. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/previousfeatures/caughtintheweb/)

Anyway, of course a podcast covering a case she was so personally involved with perked her radar and she listened. Only to hear that SWATHS of the show was taken almost verbatim from her story, information that only she had every reported on was discussed and basically more shit like that. There was never a single mention of the article, Frye or anything about resources other than a generic ‘this is a crime that not much has been reported on’.

Well, it pretty much blew up from there. A story on plagiarismtoday.com gives a good account of the timeline and has multiple links to the articles covering the scandal. https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2019/08/28/crime-junkie-from-top-podcast-to-plagiarism-pariah/?fbclid=IwAR0UJSbRBEUthbrrK54M7IOPo2K0B-_Z9FfKq-FuPI5w9tyoxm4KNH34zhQ

If you would prefer not to dive into hundreds of pages of investigation and online drama (but honestly, are you even living?) you can hear from three hosts who have been directly and very negatively affected by this. Esther Ludlow (who hosts Once Upon a Crime) has a more lighthearted side show called ‘Let’s Taco About True Crime’ and she has Steven Pacheco of ‘Trace Evidence’ and Robin Warder of ‘The  Trail Went Cold’ and they detail exactly what was plagiarized and how this has affected them.


Beer Announcement #3 – Episode 255

Texas Tea from Bishop Cider Co.

Show Story

New Study Disputes ‘Gay Gene,’ But Doesn’t Separate Sex From Identity (https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2019/8/29/new-study-disputes-gay-gene-doesnt-separate-sex-identity)

  • The largest-ever study of genes and human sexuality
    • published in peer-reviewed journal Science
    •  Did NOT find one single “gay gene”
    •  Can’t really tell us if it’s a “choice” or why men and women are so different
  • Definitive answer to another question: Does having sex one time with somebody of the same sex mean you’re queer?
    •  The answer is no 
    • First evidence that there are fundamental differences between individuals with different levels of same-sex experience
    •  Suggests that openness to experience and adventurous behavior are key elements to the complexity of human sexuality
  • The science-y bits
    • Carried out by 21 authors at as many different institutions
    • Analyzed nearly half a million men and women aged 40-69 in the UK
    • Detailed sexuality information was not collected
      • the participants were asked the question “Have you ever had sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral or anal) with someone of the same sex?” 
      • About 3 percent answered yes, and were classified as “non-heterosexual”
      • This was the group used for gene hunting
      • This binary does NOT accurately gauge sexual orientation
  • Remarkably strong dependence on the age of the participants
    • 40-year-olds more than 3X as likely to be classified as non-heterosexual as those who are 69
    • “This sort of rapid temporal change is characteristic of a trait mediated by social factors, not genes”
  • More than half of the “non-heterosexuals” actually had sex with the opposite sex “mostly or at least half the time”
    • Translation: they were mostly straight or bisexual, not gay or lesbian (as those terms are commonly understood)
  • Got more interesting when scientists analyzed genetic correlations of “non-heterosexuality” to other behavioral and psychological traits
    • Two were especially notable: risk behavior and openness to experience
    • Does not fit with the “typical” personality profiles of either gay men or lesbians, which have been studied extensively
    • What you’d expect for individuals willing to do something a bit out of the usual for a change, even if it didn’t match their underlying desires or attraction
    • Strong correlation to cannabis use
      • “Yes, I did, but I was soooo high.”
  • The proof of a difference between a one-time same-sex experience and enduring sexual orientation 
    • Came from examining the genetic relationships between non-heterosexuality and percentage of same-sex partners 
      • For participants for whom both measures were available
    • The correlation was zero!
      • Means that whatever genes were found for “non-heterosexuality” have nothing to do with the continuum of behavior from “mostly straight” to “completely queer”
  • Scientists also searched through 600,000 DNA markers in the sample (aka: molecular fishing expedition) 
    • Thousands of candidate genes were found
      • Only 5 were deemed statistically significant
      • Some are located in potentially interesting genes (ex: sex hormones and olfaction)
      • But only accounted for a few percent of total variation and could not predict a person’s orientation with any accuracy
  • This article was written by Dean Hamer (Scientist Emeritus at the National Institutes of Health)
    • In 1993 his lab discovered Xq28, the sex chromosome locus linked to male homosexuality – has been independently confirmed
      • Hamer’s work used genetically-loaded families with two gay beerbrothers, as compared to random individuals
      • Focused on predominantly or exclusively gay men, as compared to a population mostly heterosexual or bisexual
      • Took into account epigenetic influences
    • No correlation was found with Xq28
      • If Xq28 had been picked up in the new scan, it could be interpreted as meaning that they discovered a locus for risk taking, not homosexuality
  • Despite limitations, it’s good that the new study was conducted
    • Strong empirical evidence that knowing the origins of sexual orientation leads to increased acceptance
    • In the 26 years since Hamer’s first genetics study appeared in Science, there have been fewer than half a dozen credible research projects on this topic
  • According to Hamer the entire scientific community have always understood that the genetic architecture of human sexuality is complex
    • No single “gay gene” 
    • A straw man invented by antigay critics
    •  Easy to confuse “no single gay gene” with “no genetic influence” 
    • Will be misinterpreted as “it’s a choice” 
  • New study that may make the whole concept of “gay genes” obsolete
    • Genetic correlation between “non-heterosexuality” and total number of sexual partners
    • Stereotype that GLBTQ people are promiscuous
      • Genetic correlation means that straight people who share our genes — and there are a lot of them — also have more sexual partners
      • That would solve the conundrum of how “gay genes” survive evolution. 
      • It’s because they are really “hyper-heterosexuality genes” — and probably essential for the survival of the human race.

The Flavor Enhancer!


Let’s talk about umami. Which literally means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese.

So first of all, what do you know about MSG?

Probably that it’s used in Chinese food. Maybe that it “makes things taste better.” And you’ve probably heard that it’s not good for you.

But what is MSG?

MSG, or Monosodium glutamate, also known as sodium glutamate, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids

It’s often used as a “flavor enhancer” in super-savory foods. Notably asian food. Though, as we will get into later, it’s found in pretty much everything you’ve ever eaten. MSG or monosodium glutamate is a seasoning that combines sodium with glutamate, an amino acid that is naturally present in certain foods.

Glutamic acid was first discovered by a German chemist in 1866. Karl Heinrich Tutthausen by treating wheat gluten with sulfuric acid. Hence the name. It should be noted thought that Glutamic acid and gluten are not at all the same thing.

It was a Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda who first identified MSG and managed to isolate it for use in 1908. He was trying to identify and duplicate the ultra-savory flavor of kombu, a seaweed that is often used as the base of Japanese soups.

Kombu-dashi is a stock of konbu, a northern Japanese seaweed and kotsobushi, or dried fermented fish flakes. The combination is used in pretty much all asian soups, particularly ramen

Food rich in MSG were part of the Japanese lifestyle for… basically ever. It is thought to have been brought into Chinese food during Japan’s occupation of Taiwan during the early 20th century. From there would have come to America with Chinese immigrants. Which is where the trouble starts…

Some people have probably heard of Chinese Food Syndrome. Which, for the record, isn’t a syndrome and frankly, isn’t fucking real!

The issue began in 1968 when a Chinese-American doctor named Ho Man Kwok wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine asking if anyone had time or resources to investigate why, after eating at a Chinese food place, he often felt ill with symptoms including headaches. No one really did.

But that was all it took. Despite his supposition that it could be the rice wine used, excess salt, or MSG, the MSG was what stuck. Lately because of chemophobia and racism.

Putting this into context. At the turn of the 20th century science was going to save us all. Then we dropped the bomb on Japan. Then we had thalidomide. A number of other food issues ending in the beginning of the GMO scare.

We also had generations of entrenched racism. The Chinese will cook rats and cat. They’re food will make you sick

Never mind that you just ate too fucking much.

Of course none of that is true. Plenty of people around the world I’d imagine would eat a cat or rat but none would claim it as their cultures food of choice. In fact, as an aside, the “Chinese people eat cats” business came from early San Fran, when having a bout of racism, a woman claimed that she could smell and hear her Asian neighbors cooking and eating cats. She called the police who, upon interviewing the family, found them to be vegetarians. so… whomp whomp.

So what’s the problem?

Well, there isn’t one.

Most Chinese food syndrome suffers either ate too much or have incredibly powerful psychosomatic responses.

In a study by Tarasoff and Kelly (1993), 71 fasting participants were given 5 g of MSG and then a standard breakfast. One reaction (to the placebo, in a self-identified MSG-sensitive individual) occurred.

MSG has been studied thoroughly and no causal link has been found to any ill health.

In fact, more than a few times the opposite has been found. MSG can reduce overall sodium content in a recipe by 30-40% by reducing the need for salt. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has referenced the potential of MSG as a tool to reduce sodium in foods.

For example, if your recipe for stew calls for 3 tablespoons of salt, use 2tbps of salt and 1tbps of MSG. Your food will taste a ton better and you’ll be using about 25% less sodium.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) MSG technical report concludes, “There is no convincing evidence that MSG is a significant factor in causing systemic reactions resulting in severe illness or mortality. The studies conducted to date on Chinese restaurant syndrome (CRS) have largely failed to demonstrate a causal association with MSG. Symptoms resembling those of CRS may be provoked in a clinical setting in small numbers of individuals by the administration of large doses of MSG without food. However, such effects are neither persistent nor serious and are likely to be attenuated when MSG is consumed with food. In terms of more serious adverse effects such as the triggering of bronchospasm in asthmatic individuals, the evidence does not indicate that MSG is a significant trigger factor.”  “Data from the United Kingdom indicates an average intake of 590 mg/day, with extreme users (97.5th percentile consumers) consuming 2330 mg/day” (Rhodes et al. 1991)

How much MSG would hurt you? Well, if you take it intravenously not much. If you take it like a food product, a lot. The LD50 – that is, how much it would take to kill half of the lab animals in the test – is about 15g per kilo of body weight. Also, that’s a fucking ton. The average 1 to 3 pounds of food you’ll eat a buffet might contain, maybe, 300 milligrams. By comparison, 3g per kilo of body weight of salt will kill you

Remember how I promised to get back to where MSG is from? Well, it’s not just Japan’s seafloor. Here the white crystals that most people worry about having put in their food largely come from Ac’cent In the USA, or AJI-No-Moto and can be found as “accent” seasoning in most supermarkets. Raw MSG is also available.

MSG is also found most notably in tomatoes. So your Italian pasta sauce – yep, MSG. It’s in Soy sauce of course. Most dried mushrooms are rich in MSG. One of the most concentrated naturally occurring sources of MSG, about 0.02%, is parmesan cheese. Green tea has MSG in it. Pretty much all cured meats are rich in MSG. Grape juice, has MSG in it. Peas, potatoes, scallops, corn, and some wheat products all contain MSG.

Food critic Jeffrey Steingarten argued that fear of MSG should be seen as a Western-centric mindset, lacking awareness of its common use in Far Eastern cooking without apparent problems: “If MSG is a problem, why doesn’t everyone in China have a headache?”

Beer Announcement #4 – Episode 256

Breck IPA – Breckenridge Brewery
From RW

Reminder, Next Week’s beer is Necessary Evil from Manhattan Project Beer Company

Happy Ending

Lil Nas X Makes Gay History With CMA Nomination (https://www.advocate.com/music/2019/8/28/lil-nas-x-makes-gay-history-cma-nomination)

The Country Music Awards nominated the track from Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus in the category of Musical Event of the Year

  • Classified as country rap, or country trap
    • Cowboy-booted off the BillboardCountry charts earlier this year
    •  The magazine decided it did not fit the genre
    • Sparked a debate as to what defines country music in modern times
    • Nomination sends an inclusive signal to the rest of the industry
  • Lil Nas X is now the first out gay man to be nominated at the CMAs
    • 20 years old, came out in June during the final weekend of Pride month
    •  A few notable comings-out in country music, but the genre is still notoriously conservative
      • Chely Wright is a prominent example – 2010 
      •  Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman in 2014
      •  Brandi Carlile, Brandy Clark
      •  Shane McAnally (song writer, on NBC’s “Songland”)
      •  Cody Alan (CMT radio/TV host)
      •  Steve Grand
  • Also marked another milestone in July, when “Old Town Road” became the longest-running number 1 song in Billboard’s history

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