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Critical Thinking and Evaluating Information

If there was one life skill everyone on the planet needed, it was the ability to think with critical objectivity Henry David Throreau

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is a complex process of deliberation that involves a wide range of skills and attitudes. It includes:

  • identifying other people's positions, arguments and conclusions 
  • evaluating the evidence for alternative points of view
  • weighing up the opposing arguments and evidence fairly
  • being able to read between the lines, seeing behind surfaces and identifying false or unfair assumptions
  • recognizing techniques used to make certain positions more appealing than others, such as false logic and persuasive devices
  • reflecting on issues in a structured way, bringing logic and insight to bear
  • drawing conclusions about whether arguments are valid and justifiable, based on good evidence and sensible assumptions
  • presenting a point of view in a structured, clear, well-reasoned way that convinces others

(Contrell, 2011)

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A well-cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.  

(Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008)


Five Simple Strategies To Sharpen Your Critical Thinking


Is the sky really blue? That might seem obvious. But sometimes things are more nuanced and complicated than you think. Here are five strategies to boost your critical thinking skills. Animated by Ana Stefaniak. Made in partnership with The Open University.

Video Source: BBC Ideas

Were Critical Thinking Skills Used In This Video?