The Eight-Legged Psychic Strikes Again!

7 Jul

Like most Americans, I really don’t know or care that much about soccer. I don’t know if there’s something programmed into our brains when we’re born, or if it’s some sort of disease we catch. In the latter case, there do seem to be some of us immune to it. But for the most part, every four years, while the rest of the world is consumed with what is the most popular sporting event in the history of the world, on the other side of the pond we just sit around and watch crappy summer reality shows (the ones of us with taste was baseball). Yes, friends, I’m talking about the World Cup. Now, I played soccer when I was in elementary school. I know the basic rules, enough that I could play a random pickup game with super-amatuers in the park. Not so much that I coud join a league or anything…

I kind of made a promise to myself that I would get into the World Cup this year. After all, it’s kind of a big deal – not only because this is the only thing that matters to the rest of the world, but also because it’s the first major sporting event to be hosted on the continent of Africa. To me, that is also a big story. I promised myself I would watch some games, and keep up with the teams, and get into it to really see what all the fuss is about. Alas, I did not keep this promise – not even remotely. I’ve kept up somewhat, mostly via Facebook statuses, my daily perusing on my HuffPost app, or random clips on ESPN when my brother occasionally emerges from his room. I at least know the major teams and what a vuvuzela is.

But the most interesting story this year hasn’t come from the soccer pitch. In fact, it’s not even on the African continent. It is miles away in Oberhausen, Germany, at the aquarium. His name is Paul, and he’s no sucker (even though he has many). Yes, I’m talking about Paul the octopus and his uncanny ability to predict the outcome of German soccer matches. If you haven’t heard about him, I’ve basically just summed up everything you need to know. He is in fact an octopus, who has become quite a phenomenon for his accurate predictions of what the German soccer team will do. He’s presented with two boxes, each with food inside (octopi are very smart and are often given puzzles and games for food rewards, in order to combat boredom and stimulate their curiosity), and each painted with the country flag of the opposing teams, i.e. Germany and whoever they hope to squash that week. For whatever reason, Paul has an amazing track record, predicting the outcome of 11 of 12 matches for Germany since 2008. While these are highly intelligent animals, I don’t think anyone really expected this octopus’s psychic abilities. This really is amazing.

Yesterday Paul stunned Germany when he predicted their loss to Spain, which came true earlier today. This puts his track record at 6 for 6 in the 2010 World Cup. I don’t know if they will use his abilities to predict the outcome of the final game, seeing as Germany’s not in it, so I’ll be anxious to see what happens if he does! As of now, Spain and the Netherlands, two teams who have never won before, are set to play against each other in the final. What will Paul say? Only time will tell, but I have a sneaking suspicion that whatever the octopus says, goes!


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