An evaluative review of barriers to critical thinking in educational and real-world settings
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A review of the research shows that critical thinking is a more inclusive construct than intelligence, going beyond what general cognitive ability can account for. For instance, critical thinking can more completely account for many everyday outcomes, such as how thinkers reject false conspiracy theories, paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, psychological misconceptions, and other unsubstantiated claims. Deficiencies in the components of critical thinking (in specific reasoning skills, dispositions, and relevant knowledge) contribute to unsubstantiated belief endorsement in ways that go beyond what standardized intelligence tests test. Specifically, people who endorse unsubstantiated claims less tend to show better critical thinking skills, possess more relevant knowledge, and are more disposed to think critically. They tend to be more scientifically skeptical and possess a more rational–analytic cognitive style, while those who accept unsubstantiated claims more tend to be more cynical and adopt a more intuitive–experiential cognitive style. These findings suggest that for a fuller understanding of unsubstantiated beliefs, researchers and instructors should also assess specific reasoning skills, relevant knowledge, and dispositions which go beyond what intelligence tests test.
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