Theories and speculations about ‘Paul the Octopus’

Since hatching in 2008, “Paul the Octopus’ has successfully predicted 12 out of 14 football matches, inclduing last sunday’s World Cup finals. Understandably since Paul had become a superstar of his own right, people are arguing about the credibility of his predictions. I am not convinced that an octopus can predict a football match, despite Paul’s record. I’m almost certain that there is an underlying cause behind this.

As I am in no ways an expert on biology/zoology, I would not be able to offer any scientific enlightenment on the subject. I have however, come up with several theories as to how this octopus makes his predictions:

1. He tends to favour flags with the most amount of yellow in them.

In this year’s World Cup, he predicted Germany to win against Australia, Serbia, Ghana, England and Uruguay, possibly because the German flag had higher percentage of yellow in it than the others. He picked Spain to win against both Germany and the Netherlands again because the Spanish flag had higher amount of yellow in it. But is this a plausable theory? Do octopuses distinguish between colours? If so, Paul would have needed to be trained to prefer yellow in order to make the predictions.Also, the flags have different colours between them and picking out the one with the most percentage of yellow would require a sofisticated eye and brain processing. Again, I cannot back this theory up with scientific facts.

2. The Right box

He always prefers the right box, bar the England/Germany one. I only based this theory based on the 5 videos that I have seen on his predictions of this year’s World Cup games.

3. It’s the mussels.

As we know, Paul the octopus has a choice of two boxes with flags in front of them and a piece of mussel inside each box. I wonder if those mussles are two different ones that emit 2 different signals (smell, colour, or whatever). And if so, do the people that look after Paul make the predictions themselves and then place the same kind of mussel in the box that has the flag of the team they predicted to win?

These are the only three that I’ve come up with. I’m sure that there would be a dozen or so more predictions out there. I’m hoping that readers will shed a light on this topic and give the right answer or at least give a more plausible one.


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