"Three ingredients for critical thinking
First, critical thinking means being able to recognize that there are situations where you must balance your instinctive reactions to what’s going on around you, based on emotions like fear and desire, with the need for a heavier psychological lift. In these cases, it’s crucial to take note of conflicting objectives and make difficult trade-offs.
Second, critical thinking means following some basic principles when you search for and use information. You must be open to and consider more than one solution to a problem, without ignoring or dismissing evidence that goes against your initial beliefs. And you must be willing to change your mind and your behavior in response to new information or insights.
Last, critical thinking means recognizing when you are out of your depth and then looking to legitimate experts for help. In other words, critical thinkers understand when it’s time to outsource critical thinking to others."
Thoughts about these three ingredients:
1. We often have strong initial, emotional reactions to issues. When this happens, we need to recall that our gut reactions are often mistaken. We need to recognize that others have the opposite emotional reactions, and that we can't all be correct. So, when this happens, we need to step back and recognize that this is a time to go into "fair and balanced thinking mode."
2. This thinking mode should involve understanding the options for what can be thought about the issue and their merits. It requires knowing the possibilities and a fair and balanced assessment of them. (Oftentimes people who are passionate on an issue have almost no idea what other people think about the issue and why; that's bad).
3. We should be able to recognize and admit that we really don't know much about an issue: have we taken classes on the topic? Have we majored in it? Do we have an advanced degree in it? Do we have published articles and books on the topics? Do we teach the topic? If "no," then we really should think, "Honestly, I am not an expert here--I don't know much--and so I should learn more about the topic before I form a strong view; and maybe I shouldn't form a view for quite a while, since I might learn the topic is complicated!"
Here is some great relevant discussion: