Cherry Picking (Logical Fallacy): Definition and Examples

Cherry Picking (Logical Fallacy): Definition and Examples - Fallacy in Logic

Cherry picking is a logical fallacy, meaning a flaw in reasoning that weakens the argument or a trick of thought used as a debate tactic, in which someone chooses to focus on the evidence that is in favor of their own position.

It is a commonplace fallacy in situations such as political debates where the debaters always try to make their case stronger and more persuasive to the audience.

Furthermore, it is also known, among other names, as the fallacy of incomplete evidence, argument by selective observation, and the fallacy of exclusion.

What Is Cherry Picking?

Cherry picking occurs when someone selects and presents only the evidence that supports their stance while ignoring the evidence that would contradict it.

Its logical form goes as follows:

  • Evidence X and Y are available.
  • Evidence X supports the argument made by Person 1.
  • Evidence X supports the counterargument made by Person 2.
  • Therefore, Person 1 only presents evidence X.

This logical fallacy frequently committed in various types of situations, from public debates to scientific research, and has major implications on how individuals present their claims, as well as on their reasoning process leading to their conclusions.

Furthermore, it is a key factor why individuals tend to present, believe, and spread inaccurate or misleading information.

Why It Occurs

The typical reasons – which may be deliberate or accidental – why people fall prey to cherry picking include:

  • They attempt to increase the strength of their claim in order to persuade others and gain support for their position.
  • They have an opinion or viewpoint they are emotionally attached to and want to defend it.
  • They don’t like their existing stance to be proven wrong and thus having to change their stance.

Additionally, another important reason would be a cognitive bias called confirmation bias, which also described to be the mother of all biases due to its persistency and far-reaching effects, whereby people interpret and recall information so that it confirms their prior conclusions. It likely explains a large number of cases where people choose to pick desirable facts and overlook any conflicting ones.


Cherry Picking (Logical Fallacy): Definition and Examples - Fallacy in Logic

Here’s a few examples of the cherry picking fallacy:


In the advertising industry, there is an obvious propensity for presenting only information that is favorable for the company behind a commercial. Consequently, many advertisement campaigns contain carefully picked evidence to illustrate the superiority of a brand or product.

For example, if a company making oral hygiene products claims that 9 out of 10 dentists recommend their products, what about that one dentist who does not approve of them? What if the company had undertaken a survey that included, say 100 dentists or more, and had published the results?

This may raise the question of whether or not the company had, for the most part, chosen to include the opinions of the approving dentists while excluding the ones that weren’t as fond of their products.


Cherry picking is also extensively found in news media. Perhaps a most common instance is when a journalist presents one side of a story and dismisses the other side that challenges, if not disprove, the claims of the opposing side.

As to any other person, its influence is especially strong to journalists when the news report or article involves a topic that is emotionally charged to them. They may – whether consciously or not – use various rhetorical techniques and emphasize certain information in order to support the stance they advocate for. Such behavior will almost inevitably cause the spread of misinformation to some degree.

Scientific Research

Cherry picking not only affects how people communicate and back up their arguments, but also the way they reason.

As such, it tends to wreak havoc in the field of scientific research too: Scientist that firmly believe in a particular theory may favor some facts over others and draw conclusions accordingly. This could, again, cause an inaccurate hypothesis to gain undue acceptance.

However, we have effective tools to minimize these errors of the human cognition: namely, the scientific method and peer-reviewing.