Here's another great video about critical thinking. QualiaSoup makes some really awesome educational videos.
I transcribed it to make it easy to follow and reference:
Give someone a fish and they'll eat that day. Teach them how to catch a fish and they'll never grow hungry. Proverbs like this remind us how learning skills help to move us toward self-reliance. This is never more true than with critical thinking.
Memorize the solution to a problem and you may master that particular problem. Improve your critical thinking and you'll give yourself the tools to create your own effective solutions to a multitude of unfamiliar problems.
Critical thinking refers to a diverse range of intellectual skills and activities concerned with evaluating information, as well as our own thoughts, in a disciplined way.
[analyze, conceptualize, define, examine, infer, listen, question, reason, synthesize]
When we're willing and able to examine our own capability as thinkers, acknowledging problems and weaknesses, this can help us refine our thought processes so that we learn to think and assess information in a more comprehensive way that increases our ability to identify and reject false ideas and ideologies.
Critical thinking isn't just thinking a lot. A person may spend a great deal of intellectual energy on defending a flawed position or pursuing a question that actually needs reformulating before progress can begin. If they never examine possible flaws and biases behind their approach, that's not thinking critically.
We must want to be better at thinking; to pinpoint and minimize any biasing influence on our thoughts from culture and upbringing; to seek out and be guided by knowledge and evidence that fits with reality, even if it refutes our cherished beliefs.
Indeed, when we think critically, beliefs tend not to be cherished, but held on the understanding that if they're shown to be unfounded, a change of position is the most appropriate response.
Critical thinkers cultivate an attitude of curiosity and eagerness to widen their perspective and broaden their knowledge, and they're willing to do the work required to keep themselves properly informed about a subject. They recognize that explanations must actually explain and be testable to be worthy of serious consideration, and that legitimate theories clearly define the circumstances in which they'll concede defeat.
Critical thinking embraces skepticism. Skepticism doesn't mean an indiscriminate rejection of ideas, as some mistakenly believe. It refers to doubting and suspending our judgment about claims with which we are presented so that we don't simply accept claims which might be unjustified, but first take the time to understand them, examining the reasoning and possible assumptions and biases behind them.
Reasoning behind factual claims should be based in sound, consistent logic, not on emotions and social pressure. Because the truth value of factual claims isn't determined by the emotion that accompanies them or the fact that they may be believed by certain social groups.
Sometimes people try to persuade us that reason has no value, but that's an untenable position. Arguing against reason is cutting off the branch on which you sit, using the very thing you're dismissing in order to construct a case against it.
Reason has an intrinsic role in the decisions and judgments we make as we negotiate our way through life, whether they be momentous or trivial. If a particular line of reasoning is flawed, what will increase our understanding? Dismissing the value of reason? Or looking honestly at the flaws?
A lack of respect for reason or evidence, or any number of obstructive character traits will sabotage one's capacity for critical thought. [lack of respect for reason or evidence, intellectual arrogance, unwillingness to listen, intellectual laziness]
One of the biggest barriers to critical thinking is an unwillingness to see complex issues in anything other than black and white terms. If one sees only two options when more exist, this constitutes a false dichotomy.
Consciousness is often something that is presented as either an eternal immaterial entity, or reducible and identical to brain states, when in fact there are various other positions [a brain-based process, an emergent property]. Many divide people into those who accept evolution and those who believe in specific gods when these categories are not mutually exclusive [theists who accept evolution].
If we think in false dichotomies we'll tend to draw false conclusions. For example, by judging that Option A is false, Option B must be true. We may also misrepresent others by wrongly assuming that if they don't hold Attitude X, they must hold Attitude Y.
Black and white thinking often reflects an underlying reluctance or refusal to deal with the uncertainty that results from complexity and an absence of definite answers. But leaping to flawed conclusions because you can't tolerate the ambiguity of not knowing is not about truth or curiosity, but comfort.
The critical thinker can handle uncertainty, preferring to be aware of their own areas of ignorance, and they can wait for valid evidence and evidence-based answers.
Critical thinking provides each of us with the keys for unlocking our own intellectual independence, leaving us willing and able to explore and solve problems for ourselves. It moves us away from rash conclusions, mystification, and a reluctance to question received wisdom, authority and tradition. It moves us towards intellectual discipline, the clear expression of ideas, and the acceptance of personal responsibility for our own thinking.
Communities in which individuals are eager to acquire and apply the best knowledge and reason in all fields, and willing to acknowledge and correct flaws in their own thinking are better equipped to create more profoundly effective solutions to the challenges we face in living and living together.
When we teach and encourage critical thinking, we empower individual lives and invest in our collective future.