German octopus makes waves
Forget Phil: There's a new animal psychic in town with eight legs & a winningrecord
A good psychic is hard to find. When anyone with a card table and a turban can claim to read your palm, it's hard to tell the gifted from the grifters.
So maybe that's why the field of celebrity fortunetellers has fallen to an unexpected group: Animals.
Germany's Paul the Octopus has made headlines during the World Cup by accurately predicting the outcome of all five of Germany's games to date, including a loss to Serbia and wins over Argentina and England. His less-than-scientific method? Choosing to eat from one of two plastic containers that are placed in his tank holding food and labeled with flags.
But some are hoping Paul's powers have limits: the octopus has chosen Spain to win over the Germans in their semifinal match. But there is a silver lining for German fans. One of Paul's rare misses in the UEFA Euro 2008 was a German loss to Spain in the finals (when Paul predicted German victory), so some optimists think picking Spain signals a German win.
But animal psychics don't just act as unofficial bookies.
Oscar, a cat at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Rhode Island shot to worldwide fame when an article discussing his penchant for cuddling up with patients who were about to die appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. The staff used his visits as a guide to call families to come say good-bye, but as Oscar's fame grew, residents became understandably disturbed by his presence.
Of course for every animal psychic there are a host of pretenders — including the most famous animal predictor of all: Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog that predicts the end of winter every February 2. But since 1887, the Phils have proven even less accurate than a coin toss — the groundhog prediction on an early spring is only right about 39 percent of the time, according to StormFax.
For every Paul the Octopus, there's a Sayco the Dolphin (who took home country Argentina to beat Germany in their World Cup match) or an Armani the Monkey (who predicted the 2008 presidential race would end in Hillary Clinton beating Mike Huckabee and also had the Patriots winning the Super Bowl — way to go down in flames, Armani).
Which shows you can't just call up any canine and get the winning lottery numbers — or the World Cup winner.