Cherry-picking is a logical fallacy that occurs when there is more than one important part to an argument, and a person intentionally omits the part or parts that do not support the person’s preferred conclusion – picking the parts that do support the preferred conclusion.
Cherry-picking is also called the fallacy of incomplete evidence. It can be informally called, “suppressing evidence.”
Sometimes we cherry-pick evidence to no one but ourselves. This is called confirmation bias, and it happens when we first form a conclusion, and then pay attention to arguments and evidence that support the conclusion we want to be true, while ignoring any evidence against.
The coach said, “Mary, you’ll be a great help to this team by staying at home.” Mary told her mother, “The coach said I’ll be a great help to this team!”
Joe’s puppy barks at all people except Joe. When Joe tries to sell his puppy, the possible buyer asks if the puppy likes people. Joe says, “He loves people. He licks me all the time.”
Calvin tried out a new diet. He lost ten pounds, and then gained nine. He tells everyone, “That diet was great, because I lost ten pounds!”
Mahatma said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” Stanley, his political opponent says, “See! Mahatma said that freedom is not even worth having.”
Often, when only one or two examples is given as evidence, the speaker is cherry-picking. An exception would be when there are only one or two possible examples.
Cherry-picking: Mary’s new friend says that Mary eats ice cream all the time because she has seen Mary eat ice cream the past two days. (She doesn’t know what Mary’s ice cream eating habits were before that. Maybe Mary just bought some ice cream for the first time in a long time.)
Not cherry-picking: Mary’s friend says that Mary must really like red cars because her last two cars have been red. (This would not be cherry-picking if Mary has only owned two cars, but it would be cherry-picking if Mary has owned many non-red cars in the past.)