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I will explain the formal procedures of the scientific method later in this essay, but first let's describe the more general practice of scientific or critical thinking.
The important point is this: critical thinking is perhaps the most important skill a student can learn in school and college, since if you master its skills, you know how to think successfully and reach reliable conclusions, and such ability will prove valuable in any human endeavor, including the humanities, social sciences, commerce, law, journalism, and government, as well as in scholarly and scientific pursuits.
Since critical thinking and scientific thinking are, as I claim, the same thing, only applied for different purposes, it is therefore reasonable to believe that if one learns scientific thinking in a science class, one learns, at the same time, the most important skill a student can possess--critical thinking.
Most textbooks do an inadequate job of this task, so this essay provides that information.
This information in its present form is not in your textbook, so please read it carefully here, and pay close attention to the words in boldface and the definitions in italics.
Anyone can "think like a scientist" who learns the scientific method and, most importantly, applies its precepts, whether he or she is investigating nature or not.
When one uses the methods and principles of scientific thinking in everyday life--such as when studying history or literature, investigating societies or governments, seeking solutions to problems of economics or philosophy, or just trying to answer personal questions about oneself or the meaning of existence--one is said to be practicing critical thinking.
In fact, most individuals believe in things that are untrue or unjustified or both: most people possess a lot of unreliable knowledge and, what's worse, they act on that knowledge!
Other ways of knowing, and there are many in addition to science, are not reliable because their discovered knowledge is not justified.
Scientific thinking is identical in theory and practice, but the term would be used to describe the method that gives you reliable knowledge about the natural world.
Clearly, scientific and critical thinking are the same thing, but where one (scientific thinking) is always practiced by scientists, the other (critical thinking) is sometimes used by humans and sometimes not.