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They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced.
Its adoption as an educational goal has been recommended on the basis of respect for students’ autonomy and preparing students for success in life and for democratic citizenship.
“Critical thinkers” have the dispositions and abilities that lead them to think critically when appropriate.
Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions.
No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion.
When grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of one’s own, or one's groups’, vested interest.
As such it is typically intellectually flawed, however pragmatically successful it might be.Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life.Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.When grounded in fairmindedness and intellectual integrity, it is typically of a higher order intellectually, though subject to the charge of "idealism" by those habituated to its selfish use.Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought.Critical thinking is that mode of thinking - about any subject, content, or problem - in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.The abilities can be identified directly; the dispositions indirectly, by considering what factors contribute to or impede exercise of the abilities.Standardized tests have been developed to assess the degree to which a person possesses such dispositions and abilities.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.