Blog Post

A Psychic Octupus?

I've heard everything now. Believe it or not, World Cup fans are apparently oggling a fish tank in Germany that contains a small brown octupus. Known as Paul, it is said to have correctly predicted the results of all six matches involving the German team and is now preparing to pick the winner of Sunday's final match. London's Telegraph is reporting that the octupus, born in England but now living in the Sea Life Oberhausen in Germany, has become quite a sensation on the internet as well as at the games. Paul's psychic career began more than a year ago when his keepers devised a feeding game in which they offered him two glass boxes containing a mussel and would feed him whatever glass he chose. At the start of the World Cup Games, they began placing flags of the competing teams in the cups and claim that Paul always picked the winner of each match. He apparently guessed the outcome of all Germany's games, including their shocking loss to Serbia, as well as their defeat of England and Argentina in subsequent rounds. The German public was dismayed when Paul predicted that Spain would win Wednesday night's semi-final, with some fans calling for him to be "thrown into the shark tank." When Spain did indeed beat Germany, "anti-octupus" songs were aired in Berlin while Spanish fans chanted his name at the stadium in Durban. Bastian Schepers, who manages the aquarium in western Germany where Paul lives, said: “It’s good for us that he’s right, but we hoped he would choose Germany. We hope it’s not only luck.” All eyes are now upon the sensational psychic octupus as he prepares to pick the winner of Sunday's final. As ludicrous as it sounds, some people really believe in this kind of divination and have been using animals to predict the future since ancient times. One example would be extispicy, an ancient form of augury that involves inspecting animal entrails and using any anomalies found in them to predict future events. As the Telegraph explains, people have long believed in animals' ability to foresee events, even though these abilities are attributable to their natural talents rather than to psychic powers. For instance, some believe snakes can predict earthquakes and tsunamis, but this is likely due to the fact that they can sense the earth's vibrations or detect atmospheric changes. Canaries were still being taken into coal mines until well into the 20th century to predict mine disasters, not because they're psychic but because they can detect the build-up of toxic gases that usually precede an accident. When cows lie down, which is commonly believed to mean rain is on the way, it's probably because they sense the moisture in the air. The Telegraph also reports on a few interesting reports of animals who seem somehow able to sense impending death. Perhaps the most famous case involves Oscar, a cat who lives at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island who has famously "predicted" more than 50 deaths. Apparently, Oscar has an uncanny ability to sense when death is near and is often found curled up beside a resident who dies soon after.   Of course, no one likes to talk about the "less successful" psychic animals, such as Armani the monkey who predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the U.S. Presidential election.  Well, news has just broken that Paul the octupus has selected Spain as the winner of the World Cup final on Sunday. Paul's unbroken record of successful picks has lasted for a whopping one year (he apparently made a few mistakes early in his career). Only time will tell if the winning streak of the psychic octupus will continue.