Nathaniel Davis

Debunking Fake News through The “Dave Test”

Fake news, alternative facts, and doublespeak is here to stay. Fortunately, I’ve developed a foolproof method to debunk it. The Dave Test.


I feel I have my share of responsibility in the legitimization of fake news and conspiracy. As a teenager I made a lot of irresponsible claims about how “they” controlled the people, hoping girls would overhear and beg me to save them from the system. These were the kinds of statements that allow you to feel in the know without actually having to do any research. At the time I thought they made me the heir to Bob Dylan, only edgier, like if Bob Dylan had also painted extreme yet accessible pornographic subway murals.

Repeatedly invoking “they” has had a durable effect on my inner monologue and decision-making process. “They” became a recurring character in my braggy odyssey of pseudo-insight. Even today, I’m still afraid to grant apps permissions to root through my phone, because then “they” will know where to find me. (At home.)

Until recently, I never asked myself who “they” are? How is this vague notion of “they” good enough for me? Deciding I wanted to demand more from the hemisphere of my brain that scientists agree deals in overly confident political generalizations, I devised a test.

I give you … The Dave Test.

When I say “they,” I figure I am just saying what in the ’60s was known as “the man.” I always thought “the man” implied a monolithic unity of purpose, intention, and execution, so it might as well be one man. Let’s call him “Dave.”

I chose the name Dave because Dave sounds very non-threatening. Dave sounds like that friendly neighbor who won’t chop down the maple you love so much even though a substantial portion of the root structure is on his property. Dave is the guy who lets you perform bathroom surgery on him even though you haven’t been dating for that long. Dave is the name you expect to see on a name tag reading “Hello, I am Dave.” Dave can’t be Illuminati. The Illuminati don’t wear name tags. They already all know each other. From Illuminati kindergarten.

How the Dave test works:

  1. Take a statement implying a vague conspiracy.
  2. Replace the “they” in your statement with “Dave.”
  3. Repeat the statement out loud to yourself.
  4. Decide if statements like “Dave controls every central bank in the western world” sounds like it might maybe possibly need further research.

Be warned, once you start Dave-ing statements, it’s hard to stop. Statements like, “It’s an old divide and conquer technique Dave uses to keep us weak.” Or, “Dave is using the fleet of every major airline to spray brainwashing fluoride over the Midwest.”

You can use Dave for all sorts of fun. Personally I like to ruin protest songs, Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us,” and the entirety of Immortal Technique’s back catalog. Rage Against the Machine’s “Bullet in the Head,” a childhood favorite, is also ruined: “Just another victim of the in-house drive-by / Dave says, ‘Jump,’ you say, ‘How high?’.” Not quite as rousing as I remember. I guess it’s hard to be rousing and factual at the same time. Successful battle cries rarely if ever involve charts and statistics.

Replace “they” with “Dave.” Repeat the statement out loud to yourself. Decide if statements like “Dave controls every central bank in the western world” sounds like it might possibly need further research.

This doesn’t mean Dave-ing can’t be fun. Maybe Facebook could install a “Dave” button. I wonder what it would look like. Maybe a giant stylised “D” or the face of a famous Dave. I Googled “Dave” and this is what came up: Dave Navarro, extremely blonde French singer-songwriter Dave, and Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl seemed the least likely to get pissed off and sue people over this, so let’s go with Dave Grohl.

Also, if I turn out to be wrong and there is an omnipotent omniscient person who controls everything, I hope to hell it is Dave Grohl. He’d make a great living God/one-man shadow government. And it means the odds of Kurt Cobain being alive have just skyrocketed. He’s living with Amy Winehouse and Heath Ledger in a converted poultry farm near Lake Manitoba.

See? I’m already arriving at more reasonable insights. Now you can too.




Nathaniel Davis

Nathaniel Davis is a hairy, neurotic writer based in Toronto. He has recently turned 30 and abandoned his dreams of world domination. He now focuses on analyzing the people who won't. He writes weekly on

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