Paul retiring from oracle biz

While Spain celebrated its first World Cup win, some Dutch soccer fans looked not to their team for reasons for the 1-0 loss. They blamed Paul.

The 2-year-old oracle octopus, named Paul, who lives at Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, was presented a replica of the World Cup today as a reward for his eight-for-eight record in picking matches in the soccer spectacle. Paul's uncanny yet correct picks have earned him respect as a possible psychic and has turned him into a worldwide celebrity. He picked the winner of Germany's five World Cup wins, as well as the team's two losses. He picked Spain to beat Netherlands in Sunday's final.

People placed bets based on Paul's predictions worldwide. A person who bet consistently on Paul's picks throughout the contest would have won $4,500 at the end of final play.

The odds have been high against Paul's picks. Some probability experts said the likelihood of getting eight consecutive picks right is 1/256, while others said the odds of getting eight straight was over 1/300.

Paul made his picks by choosing food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank. Each of the containers bore the flags of the teams in a particular matchup. The first container he opened was regarded as his pick.

So in the midst of a series that was filled with 47 fouls, 13 yellow cards and one red card, there was one octopus who knew what was what.

Dutch fans said the predictions, and the notoriety attached to them, were the downfall of their team.

"Had it not been for this creature called Octopus Paul, which weakened our team by its predictions, Holland could have destroyed Spain," said one Dutch fan after the game. "I am not taking anything away from Spain, but this creature's match outcome prediction was bad news."

Another fan said he "strongly believed" Paul's predictions had a negative impact on the Dutch team psychologically and spiritually.

Spain's fans were a little more octopus-friendly, saying Paul would surely be heralded as a hero in Spain.

Paul isn't showing any signs of concern regarding anyone's opinions of his prognostication abilities. He's retiring from the business of being an oracle, and will be getting back to his old job, which his handlers at the aquarium say is "making children laugh."

Published Monday, July 12, 2010 12:59 PM by bulldog
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