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Paul the Octopus

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Perhaps one of the most famous and most bizarre cases of psychic phenomenon in recent years is Paul the Octopus.  Paul came to prominence when he correctly predicted the winning teams in several rounds of the 2010 Football World Cup, not bad for a common octopus from Weymouth in England.  Paul was on display in Oberhausen’s Sea Life Centre, Germany.  It was the matches involving the German national team that he seemed to excel in predicting using his feeding behaviour.  Paul was returned from his work as the reigning psychic at the sea life centre shortly after the tournament ended, passing away peacefully in his tank the following October.

How it Worked

Into Paul’s tanks were placed two boxes, each containing the same type of food, the only difference between the boxes being the coloured national flags of the participating teams in the next round of the World Cup.  His team of choice was interpreted as being the box that he took his food from first, the flag on the box representing the country which would win the next game.  Over the course of the tournament Paul scored a staggering 100% success rate with his predictions.  He correctly identified seven of the German national team’s match outcomes as well as the result of the final between the Netherlands and Spain.  Paul had previously been employed as a soothsayer for the national team in the Euro 2008 tournament, where he had previously recorded an 86% (12 out of 14) success rate.


Paul only had a relatively short history in the world of TV psychic’s, being born at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, he was then transferred to Oberhousen in Germany, although various claims have been made the Paul was in fact a wild octopus caught in the Mediterranean Sea.  Several attempts were made by interested business parties to have Paul transferred overseas, sums to the value of 30,000 euros were offered as a ‘transfer fee’ to have him placed on display in Spain, however the offer was rejected as it was feared that Paul could have ended up as an expensive menu item rather than a living display.

The subject of Paul ending up as someone’s dinner made international news, with the Spanish Prime Minister offering a team of bodyguards to guard his tank to protect him from eager gourmets, whilst the Minister for the Environment said that Paul would be offered conservation protective status to ensure that he would not be eaten by the Germans.

Luck or Psychic Ability?

Some academics claimed that Pauls apparent success was down to luck, and that the same success rate could be achieved by simply tossing a coin, however it was never matched.  With his keeper claiming that the boxes and mussels used as food were identical in each case, and the possibility of a tie in the game removed Paul had a 1 in 2 chance of getting the result correct, with odds of 1 in 256 of getting all eight results correct.

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