The practice of critical thinking sets out to assess the validity of premises, logic of arguments, and reliability of conclusions. In practice, discerning the truth of an argument is not always a simple task. Core Concepts in Critical Thinking Introduction to Statements or Claims
An argument is a set of statements. The premises – facts or propositions – are intended to provide support for the conclusion. The conclusion is asserted to be true on the basis of the premises. If an argument is cogent, then a true conclusion follows logically from true premises.
Critical thinking is not equivalent to that vernacular meaning of skepticism that refers to a habitual, cynical attitude of incredulity. However, where philosophical skepticism equates to a methodology for obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing, then skepticism is a phase of critical thinking.
Scientific method is akin to formalized skepticism in that it proceeds by rigorous scrutiny of falsifiable hypotheses. Any hypotheses that are demonstrated to be faulty will be discarded, and alternated explanations for empirical observations will be formulated and tested. Eventually, any reasonable hypotheses that are not disproven will be regarded as so acceptable as to be elevated to the level of scientific theory.