The Cherry Picking or Selective Attention fallacy occurs when someone selectively chooses data or evidence that supports their argument while ignoring or dismissing data or evidence that contradicts it. This leads to a skewed or misleading representation of information that may appear convincing at first glance but lacks integrity under closer scrutiny.
In essence, cherry-picking involves presenting only a portion of the available evidence, intentionally leaving out important aspects that would offer a more complete and balanced view.
Let’s consider a debate on the impact of video games on youth behavior. A person might argue that video games lead to violent behavior in children and cite a handful of studies that seem to suggest this link. However, if they ignore or dismiss a substantial body of research that finds no such link, or that suggests that other factors (like family environment, personal disposition, etc.) are more influential, they are guilty of the Cherry Picking fallacy.
In this example:
Cherry-Picked Data: The studies suggesting a link between video games and violent behavior.
Ignored Data: Studies showing no link or that other factors are more influential.
This selective use of data creates a misleading narrative that amplifies one viewpoint while suppressing another, thus not giving a fair or balanced picture of the evidence at hand.