Actually, i'd go so far as to say it is now way more than just that. There has always been a percentage of the population that unable to apply critical thinking simply due to the way they are. The part that frightens me the most is the trend in the past 20 years towards critical thinking being considered a negative thing. Anyone making consistent use of critical thinking will find out very quickly that thinking is no longer popular. There are a large number of people i KNOW are able to approach problems in this fashion, but refuse to do so as that just isn't popular.
I'm sorry but if they are that much more concerned about being popular, then either they are cowards or they do not deserve the credit for thinking ability that you are giving them.
It kinda sucks, but being well adapted socially requires a high tolerance for statements that make absolutely no sense.
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - J . Krishnamurti.
At some point you need your own idea of what health (mental and physical) looks like and you need the strength to continuously refine that idea and try to live up to it regardless of what anyone else is doing. This is the fallacy of the current method of defining who is and is not "well-adjusted". It is defined more in terms of what everyone else is doing and less in terms of objective criteria.
I have studied psychology and found it to be superficial and unsatisfying compared to Eastern philosophy (non-theistic philosophy, not religion) in terms of finding real answers to why we have the problems that we do. In fact, manipulating outward behavior is about the only thing at which modern psychology seems to excel. I reject the notion that it should be used for this purpose, as the centrally managed existence is the very antithesis of people who think for themselves and live their own lives. I am not a therapist and I am not a psychologist, so what follows is the product of my own critical thinking and nothing more.
The number of people I know who are not and have never been on some kind of anti-depressant or other psychological medication is a short list indeed. I believe our society is sick; in fact, "collective madness" is probably not too strong of a term to use. It is quite natural that a healthy person will be unhappy or otherwise suffer from living in a society that is not only sick but also shows no real interest in getting well. For various reasons, we don't really like to deal with underlying causes and put them to rest. So we see each case of this as a list of symptoms and we have become very clever at creating medications that address those symptoms without seriously questioning why they exist and why they are increasing. We give those to people who aren't happy here and tell them to buck up, meanwhile no truly satisfying improvements to the way we live occur. I am not saying that there are no people who truly need to be medicated, only that they didn't get that way in a vacuum.
It seems to me like this sense of "obvious cognition == bad call" has been on the rise especially in the generations born after 1985. i do not know what happened to overall education in the early 90s in north america (not just schooling but also parental and societal exposures as well), both in canada and the states, but it has destroyed the DESIRE to think critically in a large portion of the younger populace.
The educational system as we know it today was created by people who wanted to meet the needs of business during the Industrial Revolution. The biggest fear of the Industrial Revolution tycoons was "overproduction", that is, they saw the American traditions of independence and self-sufficiency and the entrepreneurial spirit as tremendous threats to their control of markets that required large initial investments. The current educational system was (openly) designed to produce people who knew enough to do their jobs but not enough to seriously question or otherwise threaten the order of society. This is not merely about power or control; it is much worse than that. This is more of a religious cause, the goal of which is to bring about utopia even if it costs us our humanity. It so strongly resembles Huxley's Brave New World that it's not even funny.
Today people are called upon to be replacable, interchangeable parts of the machinery of society. It's bass-ackwards because the people are serving the systems instead of the systems serving the people. It's a dehumanizing influence, and when each person is a replacable faceless unit it is very difficult for things like love (look at the divorce rate) or genuine inquiry to prosper. Of course, this is not the product of careful and honest consideration of all options available by everyone involved. Rather, it's a gradual bit-by-bit seductive influence that promises to simplify your life, reduce that terrible burden of thinking and being responsible, and provide you with more "stuff" to consume.
The best reference I can give you for the educational system, who created it, and why, is John Taylor Gatto. He was kind enough to put his entire book online for free and it can be found here. He also wrote a much shorter essay which can be found here.
My only hope is that i just happen to run into a really bad sample set of people during my life to have a proper opinion.
If only that were the case.