Critical thinking is a byproduct of education.
When a culture prioritizes the educational process as one that exists to indoctrinate minds, ensure conformity of behavior, and to socialize to a certain level, education transforms into something other than a vehicle for encouraging critical thinking.
When public education becomes something else, it serves to overpower and induct rather than something that serves to grow engagement and interaction with hard ideas—and tough (rather than utopian) choices about life, morality, ethics, and care.
Critical thinking becomes the byproduct of analyses, interaction, and engagement in a model that favors the development of such traits. In this scheme, critical thinking is not to be confused with “criticism-thinking”: where a conclusion is pre-determined and then the student is educated backward to make sure that their answers (and their thinking) conform to the “right” answer.
Whatever that answer may be.
“Fake news” as a public information issue is exacerbated by the presence of a lack of critical thinking among college students: people who are exiting a public education system that overpowered their critical thinking (but not their “criticism-thinking”) long before they became encultured to the vagaries of choices and options in the world that only applied critical thinking could help them manage.
When the public focus is more on telling people what to think, because that process sells more papers, encourages more compliance, or makes better workers (but not better citizens) the public overall shouldn’t be surprised when, after a few decades, critical thinking becomes less of a byproduct of education.
The critical thinking for which the public is looking—to create informed voters, for instance—comes about through first determining what exactly the educational system is for.