Octopuses and Parakeets

I thought the World Cup was about soccer. Not animals.

Now it seems that the final will decide the fate of four, not two, parties. Yup, it’s Spain VS the Netherlands, and Pa-ul the Octopus VS Mani the Parakeet.

12/7 02:30, HKG time.

Brief background: Paul the Octopus has correctly ‘predicted’ all of Germany’s matches this year, including their loss to Spain and their win over Uruguay. Mani’s owner claimed his parakeet predicted the outcomes of the four quarterfinals. For tonight’s match, Paul is, again, sucking up to Spain whilst Mani is betting on the Dutch. Some showdown.

Or not.

First, Paul. There are a few theories floating around as to how he makes his decisions. (I’ll only address two.)

1. By color. (apologies for the crappy flag arrangement.)

Paul is, after all, an octopus. So would it be surprise for it to have a favourite color? Yellow, perhaps?

Between the German and Uruguayan flags, the German flag has much more red and yellow in it (red 100% – 0%; yellow 33.3% – <20%). Same with the Argentine, English (they actually look close), Ghanaian (they equal on red but the German flag has more yellow in it), and Australian flags. Spain has more red AND more yellow, and so was chosen.

The strange case here is the Serbian flag. (And perhaps the Ghanian flag.) A further hypothesis is that Paul likes red more than yellow, but when there are equal amounts of red in           both flags, he goes for the one with more yellow in it.

Is it even possible for an octopus to be so picky, and so double-color oriented? I’ll leave that to the octopode experts.

NOTE: This doesn’t mean that countries with more red in their flags are better. That’s absurd.

2. Left-Right.

Some people think that Paul always picks the country in the right box. Wrong. He picked Germany over England when Germany was in the left box. But maybe he was just fickle that day. :/

The point is, much of the world believes in Paul’s predictions. And when the world AND a ‘psychic octopus’ is pitched against you, it’s hard not to feel nervous.

About Mani, I haven’t seen his quarter-final pickings, so I can’t note anything down yet. Will update as soon as possible.

Perhaps, a few years later, we’ll look back and think how silly we were to believe in a pair of so-called ‘psychic’ animals. Then and again, one of them could be psychic. Oh well.


Author: Jessica Y

Economics student at the University of Cambridge. Aspiring data scientist.

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