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This article was published on September 29, 2020

Fake Kung Fu masters

Fake Kung Fu masters
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Coronavirus in Context is a weekly newsletter where we bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here.

Hola pandemic pals,
                                   I recently got sucked into a YouTube rabbit hole that had me watching dozens upon dozens of videos where professional fighters take on supposed “streetfighters” and “martial arts masters” to prove they’re frauds. 

The streetfighter videos are extremely satisfying. These are usually either body builders who think they can take on pro wrestlers or tough guys who think they can trade leather with a pro boxer or MMA fighter. It’s a lot of fun to watch someone who obviously doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing get taken apart by a professional.

You see this on social media a lot these days. Some ignorant poster will say something stupid like “actually, the science isn’t clear on whether masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19” and you just wish some ripped up MMA fighter would superman punch them in the mouth. 

But watching people who obviously don’t know any better get KTFO’d (whether literally or metaphorically on Twitter) doesn’t bring the same exquisite satisfaction that comes from watching a self-proclaimed “master” get their grift exposed. 

My favorite martial arts videos are those where a pro fighter challenges or gets challenged by a supposed “master” who thinks they have special powers. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of legit martial arts masters in the world who practice their art with dignity. We’re not talking about them. 

The idiots in the videos I’m referring to include people who think they can stop a strike without blocking it or cause an opponent to fly backwards without making actual physical contact through the use of a magical power called “chi.” 

No matter how powerful they claim to be though, the outcome is always the same: the “master” doesn’t know how to fight or defend themselves against a professional and they get their asses beat.

There are a lot of fake masters on social media too. They claim to be doctors, scientists, or other relevant experts but they don’t seem to understand science and/or appear entirely motivated by politics. When they’re proven wrong they don’t adapt or change: they dig in. 

The fake martial arts masters are a problem because they defraud their students. They sell a fantasy that isn’t real and profit off of the ignorance and misplaced trust of others.

The ones on social media are much worse. People are dying because of their misinformation and the platforms hosting them aren’t doing enough to stop it. 

Just to be clear: I’m not saying actual, renowned experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and the directors of the World Health Organization, should go around beating the crap out of people for spreading fake science. 

But I’m also not saying they shouldn’t. 

By the numbers

Last week we talked about myths surrounding COVID-19. This week there’s only one number you need to put the entire pandemic into context:


Number of people lost to COVID-19: over 1,000,000

Tweet of the week

What to read

The NFL has COVID-19, Bill Gates is living comfy in Elon’s head, and we’ve passed one million deaths…
Sorry, but if you went back in time to stop COVID-19 it wouldn’t work. The universe won’t let you change what’s already happened.
? Two NFL teams shut down operations after several players tested positive for COVID-19. Those infected could face lifelong heart and lung complications if they survive. (
? Over one million people have died of COVID-19. Here’s how it happened. (CNBC)
? You can feel bad for the cruise industry and still recognize that operating a cruise liner during a pandemic is a stupid risk. The first cruise ship to sail post-‘rona may have a dozen infections already. (New York Post)
? Top White House officials pressured the CDC to downplay the risks of sending children back to school. (CNN)
Trump sent COVID-19 relief funds the Pentagon to buy combat gear and aircraft parts. (The Washington Post)
? Bazinga! Actor Jim Parsons, who had COVID-19, talks about how Sheldon Cooper would have reacted to catching the ‘rona. (HuffPost)
? Florida Man says coronavirus is a hoax. Florida Man’s wife dies of COVID-19. Florida Man says he believes in coronavirus now. Don’t be like Florida Man. (BBC)
? Bill Gates dunked on Elon Musk over the latter’s COVID-19 idiocy and it’s been bugging the Tesla CEO ever since. (Business Insider)


TNW 2020

Hooray! It’s almost here!

Our flagship technology conference starts on October 1st and we’ve gone virtual this year so there’s no reason for you to miss it! Get your FREE tickets and check out all the exciting topics and speakers we’ll have here.

Psst! BTW: You’ll even get the opportunity to see yours truly when I chat with Spotify’s head of machine learning, Tony Jebara, about the company’s AI endeavors.

See you online!


In this little section, we’d like to discuss the tech that’s getting us through the pandemic.

We’d like to. But there are much more pressing issues at hand. Despite the fact that people in the US only comprise a small portion of the global population, the lion’s share of COVID-19 cases are in the States.

The nation’s current leadership has downplayed the virus, disputed scientific facts, and showed its willingness to sacrifice lives for political power.

If you’re a US citizen and believe this needs to change: go here.

And If you’re a citizen of any other country, you can pressure your American friends to vote by yelling at them on the internet here, here, here, and here.

Well, bye

We’re all in this together. Even if it feels like everything is completely partisan right now… because it kind of is… we’re still members of the same human race. 

Maybe 2021 will be different. But the only way that’s going to happen is if we all collectively decide to look out for one another no matter what.

The good news is that doing so is easy peasy lemon squeezy:

1. Wear a mask.
2. Stay 2-3 meters away from others in public spaces.
3. Support government officials who take the pandemic seriously. 

Adios amigos,

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