To think critically, you have to be both analytical and motivated. But critical thinking is more than just a skill set; you have to recognise when to apply it, do so effectively, and then know how to respond to the results. Understanding what makes a person effective at analysing fake news and conspiracy theories has to take all of this into account.
In a world where accusations of “Fake news” are thrown around essentially at random, critical thinking would seem to be a must. This paper looks at how analytical thinking and motivated skepticism interact to make someone an effective critical thinker. You can think of this question as addressing the issue of whether better education on critical thinking would help.
Overall, a tendency for analytical thinking did provide consistent protection against conspiratorial thinking and other irrational beliefs, but only if it was accompanied by a belief in the value of critical thinking. The authors conclude that their studies “Provided support for the notion that skepticism toward paranormal and conspiracy beliefs requires sufficient analytic skills, as well as motivation to form beliefs based on logic and evidence.” While it may seem obvious-people need to be both motivated and capable to do something-it gets at the issue of whether greater education in critical thinking would help.