Definitions Frequently Used about Evidence—or Problems with Evidence


Cherry-Picking Facts

Merriam- Webster Online ( defines cherry pick:


 to select as being the best or most desirable; also :  to select the best or most desirable from



It is easier to see the meaning of cherry-pick with facts by looking at its related words.



cherry-pick, cull, … handpick, … pick, prefer, select, single (out)


Related Words

preselect; appoint, … fix, mark, nominate, set, tab, tap; accept, adopt, embrace, espouse


Basic Rule about Avoiding Cherry-Picking Facts: Your credibility will frequently be tied to your examples.  If you select examples that are atypical or that ignore the contradictions covered in the section you are using, you will lose that precious credibility.



Embellishing Facts

Merriam- Webster Online ( defines embellish:

to make beautiful with ornamentation :  decorate <a book embellished with illustrations>


to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details :  enhance <embellished our account of the trip>


Among the synonyms for embellish are some ugly words about misuse of evidence:


embroider, exaggerate, hyperbolize, magnify, pad, stretch



Basic Rule about Avoiding Embellishing Facts: To quote phrases from that definition above, you can make-up “fanciful details” about your “account of a trip” but you cannot make up details about history—or any discipline that is about reality. If the author of the required source (the textbook) does not give details, then you can’t—and you don’t need to. Always verify what you say by checking the source, or don’t say it.


Assume, Assumption, and Opinion Contrasted with the Words Fact and Evidence

Merriam- Webster Online ( defines assume and assumption and opinion:

Assume: to think that something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true


Assumption: something that is believed to be true or probably true but that is not known to be true : something that is assumed


Opinion: a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something : what someone thinks about a particular thing



Now look at the definitions for fact and evidence. What you ought to notice is that there are not a lot of facts and evidence in assumptions or opinions.

Fact: something that truly exists or happens : something that has actual existence
: a true piece of information

evidence: something which shows that something else exists or is true
: a visible sign of something
: material that is presented to a court of law to help find the truth about something


Basic Rule about Avoiding Assumptions and Opinions: Verify what you say by checking a reliable source, or don’t say it.



Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2014



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