Howdy. Today’s Bunker Logic and Reason lesson is on a very popular logic fallacy called CHERRY PICKING or The Fallacy of Incomplete Evidence. Most of you are pretty familiar with the term “cherry picking” as the term is often used by people to attempt to dismiss an argument when they choose not to agree with or accept a conclusion. That is to say, the accusation of CHERRY PICKING can be either true or false, but in any case you will hear the term used a lot. So let’s get started!
CHERRY PICKING (or The Fallacy of Incomplete Evidence) is the practice of selecting data in a way that forms or supports a particular conclusion. That is, the conclusion comes first, and then data is harvested specifically to confirm that conclusion. Often used in concert with ambiguous terminology fallacies such as EQUIVOCATION. Modern politics and propaganda is completely founded on Cherry Picking data and manipulating terms as “facts” in order to support a conclusion that fits the platform or plans of a specific group or party.
CHERRY PICKING is used in many other fields such as sales and marketing, the creation of some conspiracy theories, and con men use cherry picking to produce “proof” of whatever claims they are making. Polling firms use cherry picking (both the advantageous picking of poll respondents and the manipulation of questions or the slanted verbiage used) to create “results” that can then be used to gain customers or sway public opinion. SPIN – the use of information and data in a way that moves public opinion – is generally the high-level utilization of Cherry Picking.
There are some very famous cases of Cherry Picking, such as the logical progression the main character PIERRE uses in the novel WAR AND PEACE to determine (in his time of madness) that Napoleon Bonaparte was the Antichrist of scripture. Cherry Picking is often a practice used liberally by proponents of theories that require translation, interpretation, numerology, etc., where any and all data can be harvested and then handpicked to “prove” a conclusion that isn’t really there. A famous case exists of a French Author using these tactics, purposely, to teach how doubt could even be cast on the existence of Napoleon. Likewise CHERRY PICKING is often used by different religious cults and atheist groups to prove/disprove/explain some unorthodox view concerning the existence/non-existence or nature/person/relationships of Jesus Christ. Major doctrinal belief systems concerning eschatology (End Times Study) are founded on overlapping and manipulative uses of logic fallacies – with Cherry Picking often being the foundation of the theories.
A similar and related fallacy – THE TEXAS SHARPSHOOTER FALLACY is a fallacy of data interpretation. Whereas with Cherry Picking, specific and often unsupported data is specifically chosen (while conflicting or disproving data is ignored or hidden) to support a previously arrived at conclusion, with the TEXAS SHARPSHOOTING fallacy, data is observed first and then patterns or implied patterns are handpicked (patterns exist even in random data) with the conclusion being formed based on patterns that (when taken with all the data available) may not support the given conclusion. The name TEXAS SHARPSHOOTING fallacy comes from the story (real or not) that a Texas farmer shot up his barn, then found the tightest grouping of shots and painted the target around it – thereby “proving” that he is a sharpshooter. Often this type of behavior goes hand-in-hand with Cherry Picking in order to present what are then called “facts” or “science” when an examination of the methodology would show why the data doesn’t lead to the conclusion being touted.
I don’t think it is necessary to give you any current examples of this since LOGIC in the Time of P@ND$MIC tends to give way to fearmongering, profiteering, cultic bullying, etc. all using this famous fallacy as the central pillar. Examples are everywhere.
How to avoid falling for scams/lies/cons etc. that are supported by CHERRY PICKING: First, examine your own biases. Do you WANT the information to be true? Is your Confirmation Bias causing you to accept conclusions that already align with the conclusions you want? Second, READ THE ARTICLES! Cherry Picking and Texas Sharpshooting tactics are often perpetrated primarily in the headlines. False headlines are written knowing that people don’t read the articles. I posted one yesterday where a guy was stating that striking from your job to protest V@cks mandates could be a crime “experts claim.” It is evident that the faux journalist hand selected information and experts and then presented their conclusions in a light that supported what he wanted to say in the first place.
Ask yourself, would the person providing the conclusion have presented the same data in the same way if the data DISPROVED his/her thesis?
Third, when you can, read the studies or original data being referenced. Often you will be able to see flawed methodology or you may find that the conclusions reached in the study or data does not support the claim made in the article or headline. Fourth, maintain a healthy skepticism based on what the conclusion is asking of you, what you stand to gain or lose, and what benefit the presenters of the information have in presenting the conclusions they want you to accept.
Alright, I hope you all have a great day!