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Does anyone know what it's called when you interpret evidence to reach the conclusion you want?

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Sort of like everybody does. –  Mitch Jun 11 '11 at 15:03
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This isn't a single word, but there's a well-known saying "The devil can quote scripture for his purpose," which perfectly describes the process you're asking about. –  Peter Shor Jun 11 '11 at 16:38
    
Deconstruction. –  Peter Taylor Jun 11 '11 at 19:08
    
Interpretation. –  Marcin Jun 12 '11 at 9:29
    
Nice pointing out, Mitch :) –  Thursagen Jun 12 '11 at 22:48
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8 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Biased interpretation, a type of confirmation bias, one possible reason for which is wishful thinking.

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Eisegesis is a particularly apt term in religious contexts, but it is probably not great in other contexts.

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Interesting. I'd only heard this given as exegesis. You learn something new every day. –  Robusto Jun 13 '11 at 0:19
    
Exegesis is the opposite: exegesis is reading the meaning out of the text: eisegesis is reading meaning in. –  dja Jun 13 '11 at 4:18
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Thanks. I missed the distinction. Now I actually have learned something. :) –  Robusto Jun 13 '11 at 11:07
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You could call it 'cherry picking' - the selection of terms/facts or data which suit your purpose, but might not reflect the whole picture. It could also be called 'taking it out of context' - using a phrase or figure in a manner other than which it was written/intended.

As has been mentioned, interpretation bias and/or confirmation bias work as well.

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One phrase to describe what you'd like to say is "self-serving conclusions"

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Spin, as in what politicians (are alleged to) do.

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There is also Hineininterpretierung/Hineininterpretation, but I'm not sure how much this term is used.

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Is that a German literary analysis term? –  Mitch Jun 11 '11 at 15:04
    
In English, very rarely I'm sure. Even in Dinglish. But I bet this answer becomes the top Google hit very soon. Hineininterpretierung, on the other hand ... –  Robusto Jun 11 '11 at 15:07
    
@Robusto: Right, -ung is the more frequent word. –  Cerberus Jun 11 '11 at 15:20
    
@Mitch: I'd say it's not confined to literature. But it's probably rare enough to be considered a German word occasionally used in English. –  Cerberus Jun 11 '11 at 15:22
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I would use tendentious.

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"Motivated Reasoning" is a term that I've seen recently to describe the process of interpreting information in order to support a predetermined conclusion. Various methods can be used in the process, including confirmation bias and cherry-picking as were mentioned in other answers, but there are numerous other techniques as well. Motivated Reasoning seems to be a descriptive name for the overall process, regardless of how it is done.

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