TakeOnIt
Compare opinions of world leading experts and influencers.

FAQ

What is TakeOnIt?

TakeOnIt is a collaborative website for comparing the opinions of experts, leaders and organizations.  All opinions here are expressed in the form of how an expert would answer a yes-no question, typically creating a virtual debate. It's easy to understand takeonit simply by clicking on one of the questions. Here are a couple of examples:

Why was the website created?

Improve quality of opinions in the world

Too many news reports and articles cherry pick experts to build a case that would otherwise be utterly unconvincing, or involve debates where critical experts aren't even present. On takeonit you always get to see the full spectrum of experts on a given issue, and where you think one is missing, you can add them yourself. Experts who are neither the most knowledgeable nor influential in the world aren't included here, to avoid dilution of content with irrelevant uninsightful "me too" opinions.  "Opinions are like butt-holes - everyone has one" - this website is trying to make the internet less like a giant public toilet.

Remember who said what, punish the wrong, reward the right, save lives

The track record of an expert is important. The former Governor of Lousiana, Kathleen Blanco, answered this question: Would a hurricane in New Orleans cause thousands of deaths? with "I believe we are prepared. That's the one thing that I've always been able to brag about.". Let's make sure people like her are punished for their decisions, and don't readily get fresh opportunities to kill thousands of people. It can also work in the opposite, positive way. Paul Crutzen was right about the Ozone Hole. It would be ignorant to outright ignore what he is now saying regarding climate engineering just because his view right now isn't popular.

Stop relying on experts as replacements for our own brain tissue

We have limited time, and have to rely on experts for our opinions, but which ones? Almost every question on this website has experts on both sides of an issue. You can't just dial into the frequency of the expert that plays you the lullabies you like to hear without suppressing the rational fear of one day waking up dead wrong. How does the expert that supports your belief compare to their peers? Check out each of their credentials. I'm weary of feeling too cocky about any opinion I have when I see that a Nobel Laureate disagrees with me. Understand the opponent's arguments, and beware of strawmen arguments. This is when you're tricked into believing one side by the hollow dismissal of the *worst* of what the opposing side has to say.

Who qualifies as an "expert"?

An expert generally falls into one of three categories:

Who submits the experts' opinions?

You. However, all edits are moderated. If you do a good job submitting content you can become a moderator.

What are Implications?

Implications are logical connections between questions. For example, the question:

Did complex life evolve through the process of natural selection?
has an implication for the question:
Does evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics?

If you agree with the former, then you presumably disagree with the latter. The more complex questions on this website have many implications to other questions.

Presumable vs. Possible Implications

An implication is either presumable or possible. A presumable implication means that barring a few exceptions, everyone on both sides of a debate agrees that if you agree/disagree to the answer for one question, then it follows that you agree/disagree to the answer for another. In contrast, a possible implication has a reasonable debate as to whether the implication itself is valid. For example:

Should gay and straight couples have the same legal benefits?
has a possible implication for the question
Does homosexuality threaten the stability of society?

There are people on both sides of the homosexuality debate who would agree that this implication exists. They both believe that whether homosexuality is a threat to society has an implication as to whether gay and straight couples should have the same legal benefits. They simply disagree vehemently on whether homosexuality is in fact a threat or not.

In contrast, other people, in this case libertarians, believe that the two questions are not linked, because they believe that whether gay and straight couples should have the same legal benefits is about freedom and equal rights. From their point of view, the answer to one question has little bearing on the answer to the other. Because this view is prevalent, the implication is possible, rather than presumable.

What HTML formatting can I use for comments?

Links: [text](url)
Links to pitches: Pitches are automatically detected and converted to links. E.g. If you type the words The Big Lie Pitch that will automatically be converted to a link to that pitch.
Italic: *text*
Bold: **text**
Embedded quotes: "quote"

Note that links and bold will only work for logged in users.

Why didn't my question get approved?

Questions on this website need to capture the essence of a real debate going on between experts. Did yours?

Can complex issues always be reduced to yes/no questions?

Of course not. The world is by no means black and white. However, the decisions we have to make are. The word "decision" literally means "killing a choice", and most of the questions on this website are here to help you do just that.  Having said that:

Answers have room for fuzziness

The full set of answers to any question is agree, mostly agree, neutral, mostly disagree, and disagree. The "mostly" qualifier allows general alignment with a viewpoint, but with important exceptions, doubt, or qualifications. For example, for the question Should abortion be legal? John McCain believes that rape and incest are legitimate exceptions to an outright ban on abortions, and therefore is quoted for that question with the position of mostly disagree, rather than disagree.

Some questions are genuinely ambiguous

Each question is phrased to balance succinctness with unambiguity. Occasionally however, the ambiguity of a question should be embraced rather than avoided.  Probably the best example is Does God exist? God definitely means different things in different religions, but the diversity of opinions on the issue is best captured by not trying to avoid the ambiguity in the question. You do however have to take that ambiguity into account when interpreting the expert answers to such questions. Einstein's views on God have been famously misinterpreted for precisely this reason.

Divide and Conquer

A complex question can be divided into several sub-questions, connected through logical implications.

What can I do when I see an expert is quoted out of context?

Fix it! The content on the website is user-editable.

Why are the quotes short?

It's a waffle-proof website. Source links are mandatory, so you can follow up on what an expert says in more detail.

Where do I make feature suggestions?

Use User Voice

Who runs the website?

Well it's user-editable, so really, it's you. Ben Albahari (me) manages it. My background is in philosophy and computer science.