Critical thinking is clear and reasoned thought. However, as a term frequently used by social scientists, an exact definition remains elusive, as it is often specifically delineated by the specific researcher. For example, the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines it as the intellectually disciplined process of analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from observation, experience, and reasoning. Another scientist simply defines critical thinking as making clear and reasoned judgments.
However, social scientist agree that there are a core of critical thinking skills that can be observed, including observation, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, explanation, inference, and metacognition. Metacognition is usually defined as thinking about thinking. Critical thinking requires the individual to recognize problems and seek out solutions.
Critical thinking is one the primary goals of education and requires a level of maturity in thinking. A person who develops critical thinking skills is able to comprehend language with accuracy and clarity, recognize logical relationships, draw conclusions and make generalizations. When critical thinking is internalized, the individual is able to examine a belief or other form of knowledge, sift through the evidence that either supports or refutes that belief, and draw individual conclusions about the efficacy of such beliefs.