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(Post 18 of 33 in my 16-hour shift for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.)

4:30 pm EDT

Several readers have asked, in various ways, how you can get your child started down the path to critical thinking as a lifelong value.

In the earliest years, I think it comes down to one thing — curiosity. Raise a child who is genuinely curious about the world (what I’ve also called the unconditional love of reality) and s/he will develop a distaste for self-deception. And there’s no better definition for critical thinking than “the systematic attempt to avoid self-deception.”

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.