What is critical thinking?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Critical thinking is reasoning at the highest level. It involves thinking that is often very independent because it rejects immediate acceptance of what is termed conventional wisdom, or "fashionable thinking." Critical thinking involves analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing ideas. Its pitfalls are emotional reactions and biased thought. Being open-minded is, perhaps, one of the greatest challenges nowadays because of the virtual propaganda that is disseminated by various forms of political and social media.

  • Critical thinking involves stepping outside of oneself and gathering information that is relevant. 
  • Then, it involves assessing this information, employing abstract but relevant ideas to assist in interpreting the information.
  • Critical thinking comes to deductive, well-reasoned conclusions, having excluded other irrelevant ideas. These conclusions are then tested against relative standards.
  • Critical thinking is open-minded and logical and independent.
  • Etymologically, the word "critical" derives from two Greek words that mean "discerning judgment based on standards."