Yau-Man Chan

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Yau-Man Chan
Chan playing table tennis in 2007
Born (1952-08-26) August 26, 1952 (age 63)
Hong Kong
Residence Martinez, California, United States
Ethnicity Chinese
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. 1974)
University of California, Santa Barbara (M.S. 1977)
Occupation Technology executive
Known for Reality television contestant
Home town Kota Kinabalu
Television Survivor: Fiji
Survivor: Micronesia
Spouse(s) Jennifer Chan
Children 2

Yau-Man Chan (born August 26, 1952) is a Malaysian-American table tennis player, technology executive, and reality television participant. He was the fourth-place finisher in the reality television series Survivor: Fiji. He returned to the show in Survivor: Micronesia, where he was the third contestant to be ousted. He was born in Hong Kong[1] to ethnic Chinese parents[2] and raised in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

He retired from University of California, Berkeley in June 2013. He was the Chief Technology Officer for Computing Services, Network Services, and Telecommunications at the College of Chemistry.[3] He is also a champion table tennis player.[4] Chan was also the 2005-06 Northern California Division Director for the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.[5] He has a Bachelor of Science (physics) from MIT and a Masters in scientific instrumentation from UC Santa Barbara in 1977.[6]

In the polling at the official Survivor website, Chan was voted as being the favorite survivor of the Fiji season, with a 65.5% popularity rating. The second-most-popular, Earl Cole, only had 10%.


Survivor: Fiji[edit]

Yau-Man Chan appeared in the reality television series Survivor: Fiji. He finished fourth[7] and was the last person to be voted out. He appeared on the jury at the end of the season and voted for Earl Cole to win the game and one million dollars.

An atypical Survivor contestant, he achieved much success through his knowledge and utilization of basic physics. This was evident from the first episode. After the repeated efforts of much more muscular contestants, he was the only one able to open a box of supplies the tribe received. While others had used various brute force methods to open the box, Chan simply dropped it on its corner onto a rock, opening it immediately. In this way he was also able to beat younger, fitter and theoretically stronger players in challenges.[8]

While not shown on the series, Chan was also instrumental in the creation of fire using spectacles (something not normally possible with concave lenses).[9]

Chan also used his smarts to find the Hidden Immunity Idol. While Earl kept the tribe at bay, Chan found the idol. It was shaped like a turtle. Immediately after, he created a false idol and planted it where he found the real idol. This way, if anyone found where the idol was, they would not suspect that he had in fact found it. He constructed the false idol out of half a coconut shell and painted a face on it. He also painted the letters "I.I.," for Immunity Idol.

Chan was part of one of the largest controversies in Survivor history. In a challenge where the reward was a new truck (2008 Ford Super Duty), Chan won, and immediately offered a deal to fellow player Andria "Dreamz" Herd. Chan would give Dreamz the truck if, in exchange, Dreamz would promise to give immunity to Chan at the Final Four, thus securing a place for Chan in the Final Three. The deal was contingent on both Chan and Dreamz being in the Final Four and Dreamz winning individual immunity at that stage of the game.

Dreamz accepted the deal, and Chan sent himself to Exile Island, the first in Survivor history to do so. Chan said in a confessional during the episode that it was because Cassandra would never survive, and there was no one else to send."[10]

After two more people were voted out, the exact conditions of the bargain were set up, with Dreamz winning immunity in the Final Four. However, Dreamz reneged on the deal and Chan was voted off. In the reunion after the finale, it was revealed by the members of the jury that Chan might have won with six out of nine votes had he made it to the final three. He has stated that he holds no grudge against what Dreamz did, as it was a risk he took.[11]

Survivor: Micronesia[edit]

On January 3, 2008, Chan was announced to be among the Favorites returning for Survivor: Micronesia, the sixteenth season of Survivor which began airing on February 7, 2008. On the first episode of the show, he formed a loose alliance with fellow favorites Jonathan Penner, Ami Cusack, and Eliza Orlins. Chan joined the rest of his tribe in voting Jonny Fairplay off the island during that episode.

As aired in episode three, the Favorites lost the immunity challenge and Chan was targeted by Survivor: Panama favorite Cirie Fields, the swing vote for the two alliances (the other consisting of Amanda Kimmel, Ozzy Lusth, Parvati Shallow and James Clement). Fields targeted him because of his reputation as an intelligent player, and she was scared of what would happen if he found the Hidden Immunity Idol again. Despite Penner's attempts to persuade Fields to join their alliance, Chan was eliminated and became the third person voted off the island by a vote of 6-2-1, despite an effort to target Parvati.

However, additional footage released on the official Survivor website revealed another side to these events. Fields, who was one of the first people to visit Exile Island in this season, had shared all the clues to the location of the hidden immunity idol that she had gathered with Chan, with the understanding that the two of them would share the idol in a similar manner to Chan and Earl. After this information exchange, Chan suggested to the tribe that if they won the next reward challenge, instead of following the tribe's earlier procedure of drawing lots to determine which of their own number went to Exile Island, Penner would be sent. Upon hearing this, Fields drew the conclusion that Chan had given Penner the clues she had just shared, and that the two men were in an alliance that excluded her. That conclusion was another factor in Fields' decision to eliminate Chan. Post-elimination interviews of Jonathan Penner have told a similar story.

Invitation for a third season[edit]

Chan received an invitation to be a participant of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, the 20th season of the show, but had to decline due to an inability to secure sufficient leave from work.[12]

The Skeptologists[edit]

In April 2008, Chan worked on a pilot for a skeptical reality show called The Skeptologists. The pilot was developed by Brian Dunning (of the Skeptoid podcast) and producer Ryan Johnson (American Dragster).

The show was intended to be a reality TV series that would investigate the paranormal and fringe science from a skeptical scientific point of view.[13]

Another Skeptologists cast member, Dr. Steven Novella, heads the podcast The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, on which Chan is interviewed in the April 12, 2008 episode.

On May 29, 2011 Chan lectured on "Reality of Reality TV" at the 2nd annual SkeptiCalCon event held in Berkeley, California.[14]

Yau-Man Chan & JREF Pigasus after lecture at SkeptiCalCon, May 29, 2011 Berkeley, CA

Personal life[edit]

Chan is married to Jennifer Chan and has two children. He currently resides in Martinez, California.[6]


  1. ^ "CBS News Yau-Man Chan Survivor: Fiji biography". CBS News. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Skeptic's Guide to the Universe Podcast 142 interview". Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  3. ^ "College of Chemistry - Information Systems - Our Staff". Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Concord Table Tennis Club". Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  5. ^ "National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, Past Officers". Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  6. ^ a b "Reality TV Contestant Uses Celebrity to Teach Science". MIT Technology Review. January–February 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ Edelstein, Wendy (2007-05-30). "After 'Dreamz,' it's back to reality". The Daily Californian. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  8. ^ http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/700l1Y-FPNU/[dead link]
  9. ^ Johnson, Gordon; Johnson, Debbie (2007-06-25). "Yau-Man Talks Survivor Fiji". Acquatic Times. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  10. ^ http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/3WsnUd0aFMI/[dead link]
  11. ^ Rocchio, Christopher (2007-05-21). "'Survivor: Fiji' castaway Yau-Man Chan using niceness as payback". Reality TV World. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  12. ^ Barney, Chuck (February 10, 2010). "Barney: Yau-Man Chan says women will rule 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved February 11, 2010. 
  13. ^ "The Skeptologists". Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  14. ^ "SkeptiCalCon 2011". 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. [not in citation given]

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