Paul the Octopus proved to be a psychic cephalopod with his extraordinary powers of precognition. In the UEFA Euro 2008, Paul correctly predicted the winners of four out of six of the games Paul was given two different glass cases filled with mussels, each with the flag of a football team. Paul would decide the future winner by which box he ate the mussels from. By the 2010 FIFA World Cup he must have perfected his psychic gift, since he correctly selected the first seven winners, and then perfected his record by predicting Spain would win against the Netherlands.
Assuming Paul’s predictions have a 50/50 chance of choosing correctly, 12 successful predictions from 14 attempts is p = 0.0065, or 0.65%.(34)(154 to 1). The probability of his 8 successful World Cup predictions out of 8 attempts is 1/28 = 0.0039, or 0.39% (256 to 1). The first three matches were in the group stage where the outcome could have been a win, loss, or draw, meaning a less than 50% probability of getting the result correct. Assuming a probability of 33.3% in 6 out of 14 matches instead, the probability for 12 or more correct answers 0.11%.
Some have suggested Paul could have had a bias for certain flag patterns. Shelagh Malham, research lecturer at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, believes an Octopus is naturally drawn to horizontal shapes. Vyacheslav Bisikov, a Russian biologist, confirmed an octopus could become attracted to horizontal shapes and flag patterns. Germany, Spain, the Netherlands have flags of three horizontal lines across. So do Argentina, Serbia, and Ghana (though Argentina and Serbia have an emblem near the center). Only Serbia was ever selected as a winner out of the three.
Octopus Vulgaris have sensitive chemoreceptors on its tentacles, used to taste food and smell the water. Biologist Volker Miske, of the University of Greifswald, suggested slight chemical differences between the boxes could contribute to which is selected.
Paul officially retired in July 2010. His caretakers stated
“He won’t give any more oracle predictions – either in football, or in politics, lifestyle or economy. Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh.”
October 26th 2010 Paul passed away in his aquarium. His remains were cremated and interred inside the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre. A permanent memorial was built inside the aquarium.
The urn for Paul’s ashes, the portrait of Paul was made out of gold
Paul’s memorial in the museum
Probability Statistics: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=probability+of+8+successes+in+8+trials
1st picture of Paul: sportsfan.com
Paul and his trophy: sbs.com.au
Statue: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Grave: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images