Paul, the octopus, closed out one heck of a career as a soccer oracle on Sunday. Paul’s prognosticating prowess culminated with his successful pick of Spain over the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup finale. Paul divines his pick by opening the lid of one of two clear plastic boxes bearing the national flags of the teams in his tank. Inside each plastic box is a mussel treat. Paul opens the lid of one of the flag-draped boxes with his tentacles to devour the treat of his choice.
But according to an Associated Press Television News report, the octopus is finishing at the top of his soothsaying game and will “step back from the official oracle business.”
Paul lives at the Oberhausen, Germany Sea Life Aquarium. Spokeswoman Tanja Munzig said of the conjecturing cephalopod,“He won’t give any more oracle predictions — either in football, nor in politics, lifestyle or economy. Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh.”
Notwithstanding his spokeswoman, I’d like to suggest that Paul could also have another career beyond soccer predictions. After all, if monkeys can pick stocks, why can’t octopi forecast case outcomes?
A few years ago, there was a prognosticating primate named Mr. Adam Monk, who was a stock analyst for the Chicago Sun-Times. Mr. Monk consistently beat all the major indexes four years in a row. And in 2010, Lusha the monkey outperforms 94% of Russia bankers with her investment portfolio. Then there was Tucker the Houston Zoo elephant predicting the Super Bowl winner with a field goal.
Consequently, hiring an octopus, a cebus monkey or an Asian elephant to predict case outcomes may not be all that far-fetched. In fact, according to a recent study, they couldn’t do any worse than most lawyers, especially men. An article entitled “Insightful or Wishful: Lawyers’ Ability to Predict Case Outcomes“ reports that lawyers, especially men, are cluelessly overconfident about their cases.
Published in the May 2010 issue of Psychology, Public Policy & Law, a journal of the American Psychological Association, the study states that “Overall, lawyers were overconfident in their predictions, and calibration did not increase with years of legal experience. Female lawyers were slightly better calibrated than their male counterparts and showed evidence of less overconfidence.”
So why not give the vertebrates and invertebrates a chance?