Monday, July 12, 2010

Paul the Octopus is NOT Psychic

Okay. So it managed to guess the results correctly for a number of games. But if you are starting to believe that Paul the octopus is a psychic, then you are either plain stupid or downright crazy. Paul the octopus is just an octopus looking for food in the fish tank.

The statistical odds of choosing a correct team with just 2 tanks to choose from is simply 50-50. It does not take a genius to realise that an animal has a probability of choosing the correct tank for more than 10 times in a roll. It is just statistics at play. If Paul had made a mistake earlier on, he would not be so famous. The fact that he has made so many "CORRECT" guesses is simply due to the fact that it is a 50-50 chance each time that he gets the correct answer. Paul is not psychic, he is just hungry.

If Paul was really psychic, he would be able to choose the correct team to win the world cup with all the 32 countries inside his tank. Now that would be really psychic. (You seriously think the octopus knows that the World Cup is going on????????????????) Duh.........

The same thing applies for fund managers and their investment returns. Don't be fooled by randomness. Anyone who still doubts what I say ought to read Nicholas Nassim Taleb's book Fooled by Randomness.

But of course there will be those certain few people who will still like the romantic idea that the silly octopus is really psychic and knows which team will win the World Cup.


  1. Hi FF,

    It is also possible that Paul is psychic. Why dismiss that possibility? Do you have any reasons why Paul cannot be psychic or knows that there is indeed a world cup going on?

    By saying that octopuses cannot be psychic because you've never seen a psychic octopus before is to be in the same camp as those who say that there are no black swans because they've never seen one. Beware the dangers of tunnel vision.

  2. It is possible that he is psychic. But it is not proven yet. I am not saying that there are no psychic octopuses. I am just saying that Paul the octopus has not passed through the scientific rigors to be titled a pyschic.

    If you just gave him any two tanks with food in them, he will open them regardless of whether the countries are actually playing in the world cup.

  3. Hi FF,

    Paul did pass the test of being the most accurate animal predictor for this world cup, hoho

  4. Hi LP,

    Yes I concede on that point. He is the most accurate one thus far =)

    Too bad he won't survive for the next World Cup.

  5. Sadly, one of his friends is being brutally murdered in a blender in Argentina, or so I heard on Class 95 FM this morning. This is because he "accurately predicted" Argentina's demise against Germany..

  6. Wow. Cruelty to animals.


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