What does it mean to be a critical thinker?

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This is a term that is misused and overused a great deal today. Essentially, a critical thinker asks questions, seeks evidence, assesses the nature and weight of the evidence, considers opposing points of view, applies logic, and arrives at conclusions that are based upon something other than belief.  For example, in the present matter before Congress, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, there appears to be little in the way of critical thinking going on. A series of videos, with a clever weaving together of fact and fiction, has triggered a deluge of opposition to this organization.  No crimes have been committed, the videos purport to show something that has not in fact occurred, and there is ample evidence to show that events and statements were presented completely out of context.  And yet, we have representatives and senators willing to stop the government in its tracks over an issue they have not thought critically about. 

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A critical thinker is an individual with the ability to think rationally and objectively about their actions and beliefs, those of others as well as the phenomena they encounter. A critical thinker employs reason to understand different ideas and to further decipher mistakes in the logical processes used to establish the ideas. Critical thinkers have the ability to evaluate arguments and establish their strengths based on logical merit. Critical thinking also involves the evaluation of an individual’s beliefs in an attempt to arrive at a justifiable conclusion. A critical thinker will develop a process to address a particular problem in a step-by-step manner. This is important because success of such a process forms the framework of addressing similar problems in future. Philosophers are an example of critical thinkers because they are involved in reflection and the development of knowledge in various fields.

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