Subject: Birth Defects

The Rule 702 Toolbox: Cherry-Picking Is a Recipe for Exclusion


Most courts (but certainly, and unfortunately, not all of them) recognize that cherry-picking is a cardinal sin under Rule 702.  Science generally requires a rigorous and conservative approach to evaluating cause-and-effect relationships.  This schema inherently clashes with litigation, an arena where parties prioritize results over neutral principles of process purity.

“Cherry-picking” involves the selective consideration of facts and data to support a desired or pre-determined result, rather than the analysis of all relevant facts and data to find a scientific truth (or determine that the truth remains elusive based on the available facts and data).  It evades the scrupulous adherence to principles of objectivity, rigor, and process validity that are the hallmark of the scientific method.  In Daubert-speak, such a methodology does not produce “scientific knowledge.”  Rather, cherry-picking represents a failure of methodology that cannot be waived off as a matter of weight rather than admissibility.

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