Not sure who you're quoting here, but if you admit it as a metaphor, which I suppose is possible, it's a darn poor one, there's very little parallel between picking cherries from a bowl for their quality and selecting data to meet a particular agenda. And picking cherries from a bowl is not, in any civilized society, called "cherry picking"; even in this lax modern age, "cherry" as an adverb is well beyond the pale- damn it, now I have to look THAT up, what is "the pale"?
"Where does the phrase cherry picking come from?"
"A metaphor, from the idea of picking through a bowl of cherries and seeking the best for oneself."
When seeking answers to life's most difficult questions, I sincerely hope this person doesn't disappear into his room to "shake his magic hard place."Oh man, there was a guy at the office that would frequently say he was "Stuck between a rock and the eight-ball...."
Since youre picking at "cherry", we may want to exclude the 21st C and the second half of the 20th C for clues to the etymology.Once again, where do the cherries come in? You're just picking; you wouldn't pick bad cumquats or cherimoyas or- one would hope- data either. Nor does the phrase, as generally used, refer to picking for quality or any general criterion, it refers to picking data to support a particular agenda. No, I suppose that the phrase originates from the fact that a device known as a "cherry picker" exists, but it doesn't "cherry pick" it helps pick cherries. Then there's the factor of grammar, admittedly a dying art, but "cherry" as an adverb? Argghh.