Cherrypicking is a dishonest debate tactic that involves citing evidence from a particular source that supports an argument while conveniently ignoring other evidence from the same source that refutes the argument. For example, in versus debates, participants will commonly cite a source that describes high power outputs for starships, but they will ignore the same source when it describes low outputs for the same starships (the reverse is also common).
Quote mining is a specific type of cherrypicking that involves partially quoting a source to twist the meaning. This usually involves quoting a scientist or other expert stating a problem but leaving out the speaker stating the solution to that problem. It can also be done by quoting only the first half of a sentence that seems to support your argument but leaving out the rest of the same sentence that refutes you completely.
This is the favorite tactic of all types of conspiracy theorists.
An example of quote mining Charles Darwin:
- "To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree."
The person quoting Darwin ignores the rest of the paragraph:
- "Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound."