In a seminal study on critical thinking and education in 1941, Edward Glaser defines critical thinking as follows “The ability to think critically, as conceived in this volume, involves three things: ( 1 ) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences, (2) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (3) some skill in applying those methods.
Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends.
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.
The concept of critical thinking we adhere to reflects a concept embedded not only in a core body of research over the last 30 to 50 years but also derived from roots in ancient Greek.
The word ’’critical’’ derives etymologically from two Greek roots: "kriticos" (meaning discerning judgment) and "kriterion" (meaning standards).
Etymologically, then, the word implies the development of "discerning judgment based on standards." In Webster’s New World Dictionary, the relevant entry reads "characterized by careful analysis and judgment" and is followed by the gloss, "critical — in its strictest sense — implies an attempt at objective judgment so as to determine both merits and faults." Applied to thinking, then, we might provisionally define critical thinking as thinking that explicitly aims at well-founded judgment and hence utilizes appropriate evaluative standards in the attempt to determine the true worth, merit, or value of something.
The tradition of research into critical thinking reflects the common perception that human thinking left to itself often gravitates toward prejudice, over-generalization, common fallacies, self-deception, rigidity, and narrowness.
Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.
It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.