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.
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.
Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought.
In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.
It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue; assumptions; concepts; empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions; implications and consequences; objections from alternative viewpoints; and frame of reference.
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.
“I like to have fun; I will try and get the team involved,” Thorson says.
“Sometimes, I'll take things from the housekeeper’s cart and hide them.