There are several components to quality of thought, but they all basically boil down to understanding how the world works and acting on that understanding.
Now, as previously mentioned, understanding the world can be a good deal trickier than one might think. Apart from anything else, a decent chunk of such understanding is always going to be very very subjective, especially where other people are involved. However, for a given subset of the world - which I'll hitherto refer to as "consensual reality" - the scientific approach has demonstrated itself to be extremely effective.
The scientific approach consists of three main components:
1) Ways to ensure that your data and conclusions are accurate
2) Ways to ensure that someone else's data and conclusions are accurate
3) Ways to ensure that a community's data and conclusions are accurate
Some aspects of the scientific approach don't fit nicely into any of these categories, but I'll do my best to sort them out over the next few posts and explain why they give rise to such a powerful method of understanding the world.