Psychic or pure probability?

Lydia M McGee and Richard G E McGee
Med J Aust 2010; 193 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb04128.x
Published online: 6 December 2010

To the Editor: Paul, the 2-year-old octopus of Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium, Germany, gained celebrity status over the course of the 2010 International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup by predicting winners with surprising accuracy. In order to make a prediction, Paul was offered food from two separate containers, each one featuring the respective team’s flag. Whichever container Paul chose to eat from first was deemed to be the predicted winner. During the World Cup, Paul correctly predicted all of Germany’s results, as well as the eventual winner, Spain. In other words, this cephalopod made correct predictions eight times in a row.

  • Lydia M McGee1
  • Richard G E McGee2

  • 1 Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.



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