'Psychic' octopus seals perfect record
(AFP) Monday 12 July 2010
Paul the "psychic" octopus finished the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ with a flawless record as Spain's 1-0 win over the Netherlands in Sunday's final left him with eight perfect predictions.
The eight-legged oracle has become a FIFA World Cup sensation by correctly forecasting all seven Germany games in South Africa and he finished the tournament in style by predicting a Spanish victory in the Soccer City sign-off.
As Paul foretold last week, Spain won their first world title after Andres Iniesta's 116th-minute strike broke the Netherlands' hearts. The tentacled tipster also correctly predicted Germany would beat Uruguay in Saturday's third place play-off.
In the now familiar routine, two boxes were lowered into his tank last week, each containing a mussel and the flags of the two opposing teams. Paul went straight to the correct box both times, wrenched open the lid and gobbled the tasty morsel.
But the art of football predicting has become a dangerous job for the English-born clairvoyant. He fell offside with bitter German fans who threatened to turn him into sushi after he predicted a semi-final defeat for the Mannschaft against Spain.
Paul's home, an aquarium in western Germany, has received death-threat emails saying "we want Paul for the pan," said entertainment supervisor Daniel Fey. No less an authority than Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero has called for octopus bodyguards. Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian has called for the creature to be given an "immediate" free transfer to Spain to "ensure his protection."
Stung by Paul's "treachery" at picking Spain over Germany in last Wednesday's semi-final, some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd watching the game on giant screens in Berlin sang anti-octopus songs.
His prediction of a Spanish victory is expected to be the last for Paul, who in octopus terms is a pensioner, at the grand old age of two-and-a-half. Octopuses generally live three years at the latest.
Link : http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/newsid=1273034/index.html
5 Theories To Explain “Oracle” Octopus Paul’s Perfect World Cup Predictions [Video]
Spain’s victory Sunday in the World Cup has people wondering how Paul, the “Oracle” octopus predicted the historic win over the Netherlands. And for that matter, how does Paul forecast so many other football matches with such perfection? The mollusk’s on a run with his predictions, scoring a perfect record, 8-for-8, for the 2010 World Cup. Earlier the octopus accurately predicted Germany would beat Uruguay in the World Cup’s third place match on Saturday. Paul also foresaw all four of Germany’s wins and two of its losses.
Paul, who lives in a tank at a Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, shows his predictions by picking between two clear plastic boxes. Each box holds a tasty snack, either a mussel or an oyster, and has the flag of the country of a World Cup competitor. The box Paul opens and eats from first is considered the future winner. Paul’s predictions have been 100% correct for the 2010 World Cup, and have been reported to be 86% (12/14) correct overall. Not bad for a “common” octopus.
But not everyone is convinced of Paul’s purported psychic abilities. Skeptics, scientists, mathematicians, logicians, rational-minded folks and, of course, fans of the losing teams, have offered the following explanations for the accurate predictions by the octopus.
- Could the game be fixed? Perhaps Paul likes oyster better than mussel, for example. If so, whichever human being puts the food in each box could actually be the “oracle,” because if his keeper knew Paul preferred oyster, all the keeper would have to do is put oyster in the box with the team he thought, through human rational thinking and information, might win. The octopus would then go to the box which had the food he preferred, which of course would be the box of the winning team.
- Paul’s trained. This octopus species, Octopus vulgaris, has sensitive chemoreceptors on its tentacles, which can taste food and “smell” water. Some biologists have suggested that minor chemical differences on the surface of each box might account for Paul’s decisions. Some people say that Paul could be trained to choose the right box by smell. The plastic containers reportedly have holes to help him choose.
- Good odds and good luck. If you’re a betting person, you have to admit the odds are in Paul’s favor. Because there are only two choices, he has a 50-50 chance of predicting the winner every time. You can compare that to a run of luck during a coin toss. Mathematically, Paul has a 1 in 64 chance of predicting six in a row. It’s extremely better odds than winning the California lottery (1 in 13 million) or getting killed by lightning (1 in 2,320,000).
- You never hear about all the animals that try and fail to predict the outcome of sports competitions. If you consider how many such animals and gimmicks might be out there, and how many fail, then it doesn’t sound so omniscient that you only hear about Paul, the one that just happens to be successful. The news media won’t cover (or necessarily mention) all the others. And the owners of establishments won’t make any money off the failed animal “prophets.” There’s strong interest not to mention the ones that fail and to hype up the ones who succeed.
- Paul may be biased. Although scientists believe Octopus vulgaris is most likely color blind, Paul may still be able to see horizontal lines, as well as levels of brightness, object size and orientation. Because the flag of Germany is a horizontal tricolor, the octopus may naturally be drawn to it more often. Likewise the flag of Spain is a horizontal tricolor, as is the flag of Serbia. Paul may be able to distinguish the horizontal lines as well as the brightness in the preferred countries’ colors.
Here’s a YouTube video showing Paul making his famous prediction of Spain’s victory over Germany. Watch it carefully. You be the judge. How do you think the octopus is making his predictions? Is the octopus an “oracle” or a charlatan? Leave your theory in the comments below.
Link to video : http://indyposted.com/32120/paul-oracle-octopus-world-cup-predictions-spain-netherlands/