LOPEZ: Is it realistic to advise limiting time online? We’re increasingly an online people.
GUNLOCK: Oh, it is so important to unplug and spend time in the real world. But I also think it’s important to understand the proliferation of fear-mongering websites on the Internet today. Fear is profitable. It drives traffic. These sites are popular. So people need to carefully consider the sources for their information and add a bit of skepticism while spending time online. If you can’t limit your time online (I have trouble with this advice myself!), I provide a guide to good science in the book which will help people differentiate between legitimate health-and-wellness stories and those driven by an alarmist agenda.
LOPEZ: Your book is largely about discernment and balance, isn’t it?
GUNLOCK: Yes, it is. I want women to be skeptical of the information they’re getting from some of these mainstream sites. I hope women do a little more research on their own and learn to trust their instincts rather than become terrified of everything with which their children come into contact.
LOPEZ: What do you hope your book inspires? More non-green household-cleaner use?
GUNLOCK: Ha. Well, that would be nice. For heaven’s sake, I don’t think those green cleaners really work. Give me the good old-fashioned, knock-you-out, strong stuff. I want those bacteria to die!
Mostly, I hope this book inspires moms to execute some basic common sense, and enjoy parenting and life more. Parents have plenty to worry about and don’t need to needlessly obsess about every time their kid has a jellybean or they uses spray cleaner. Who needs all this unnecessary stress? Surely that’s not good for anyone.
LOPEZ: How can we help moms and dads, as a media matter?
GUNLOCK: The media (National Review excluded, of course!) must be better about reporting science issues. I’m constantly amazed to see radical environmental groups quoted in news articles as nonpartisan sources. For example, recently a “medical reporter” for a major national newspaper did a story on chemical exposure and breast cancer. Who were her sources? Did she talk to health professionals, scientists, toxicologists, breast-cancer researchers, or oncologists? Heck no! She spoke to a representative from a well-known, radical environmental group that regularly posts laughably bad “studies” on chemicals and cancer. As if that weren’t enough, later in the story, the reporter cited a researcher who produced a study so bad that the journal had to retract some of the study’s claims. Has this reporter heard of Google? A simple Google search would have informed her that her sources were on the weak (and anti-chemical) side. But perhaps the worst part of this story is that these sorts of alarmist news pieces will encourage some women to focus on this anti-chemical nonsense rather than the real behaviors that reduce cancer — eating better, reducing alcohol, and getting moderate exercise.
LOPEZ: What are you most grateful for?
GUNLOCK: I’m thankful to be living in the modern age. Despite its many downsides (modern pop music, our thin-obsessed culture, the Kardashians), we have never lived in a safer, healthier, cleaner, more promising time. Friedrich Hayek warned optimists that “implicit confidence of the beneficence of progress” would be “regarded as the sign of a shallow mind.” Fine. Call me shallow. I don’t mind. I believe in the progress of man and in the promise of scientific discovery. Walking that back in the name of “protecting” us is what’s truly terrifying.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a director of Catholic Voices USA.