Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Paul the Psychic Octopus

From 2008 to 2010, a pet octopus named "Paul" was given the rather burdensome chore of predicting the outcome of World Cup soccer matches. His handlers would put food into two boxes at a time, each box decorated with the flag of their respective country's teams, then whichever one Paul decided to chow down on first would be the predicted winner. Over his two-year career, Paul got it right 11 out of 13 times.

Of course, nobody's really suggesting that Paul was following soccer games. Rather, plain old luck doesn't put the odds too far away - one might get the same sort of record flipping a coin. Some have speculated that Paul was attracted to flags with horizontal stripes, which just raises the question of why countries with horizontally-striped flags should win soccer matches more often.

Paul was the subject of international fame - for an octopus, anyway - and was widely missed after his passing at old age of octopus years. And just when this story couldn't get any sillier, there's conspiracy theories around his passing.

Here's Paul in action during one of his televised picks:

Paul and his handler also got death threats and recipe suggestions after Paul's predictions proved accurate:
OK, now that's silly enough!