Paul the Psychic Octopus has, in its short life, predicted more victories in the World Cup than many professionals with a firm understanding of the game. Though he is only a little over two years old, the octopus has been using a strange method of predicting victory in the World Cup with an incredible success rate of 70% since 2008. It sounds like the premise from an episode of the Twilight Zone, but it seems the prognosticating octopus has either an incredible talent or an incredible amount of luck.
Paul the octopus has been making predictions based on an interesting system wherein two jars are placed before it each containing a mussel. The mussel it selects is used as an indicator for which country will win an upcoming game. And the incredible talent has brought Paul international recognition as a psychic octopus and given hope to millions of fans hoping for a German victory. When Paul pulls a mussel from a container bearing the German flag a cheer goes around the room as it indicates with 70% accuracy that Germany will win the upcoming competition. But is there more to this eight armed extrasensory octopus? Or is the experiment somehow rigged to favor a German win?
With the world cup creating a firestorm of mystical controversy and luck both good and bad, some have wondered if there is something more to the games than talented athletes kicking a ball around a field. Curses have been placed on teams, horoscopes have been consulted, and rituals have been enacted to tip the balance in one way or another. Such high profile magical influence may not be provable empirically, but it can be confirmed that these experiments can have a powerful psychological effect on coaches and even players. As Paul weighs his disproportionately large brain in on the prospect of a German football victory, millions watch as his predictions are broadcast.
And Paul is even known to show certainty or uncertainty in given situations. In one correct prediction the cephalopod not only opened the jar to collect the mussel from Germany’s vessel, but also entered it and closed the lid behind him much to the amazement of Tanja Munzing who would later speak of the incident to the BBC. In his interview, Mr. Munzing proudly showed off the octopus and predicted further psychic “hits” from the creature.
But before fans of the World Cup start searching for their own psychic octopi, it should be noted that Paul will likely be around next time to predict the matches of 2012 as well since it will be well within its lifespan. And it doesn’t take a psychic octopus to predict that many will be watching to see if his incredible streak continues through this time as well. And it seems in the meantime there is no better bet when it comes to guessing wins or losses for German football than than Paul the Psychic Octopus. How exactly he does it, however, is to the rest of us completely unexplainable.