Fortune-telling Pulpo Paul did what few (if any) others did, eight 100% accurate World Cup predictions, which if we simply assume that the octopus chose at random, leads to an expected 1/256 chance of getting them all correct.
I’m glad Pulpo Paul made it straight through with perfect accuracy, and not just because of Spain’s win. I’m glad because if he made a mistake, everyone would’ve said “hey, it’s just an octopus, what did you expect?” And there would’ve been commentary from Nassim Nicholas Taleb on fund manager accuracy, the file drawer problem and comparisons to financial modeling. And all justified. That’s what made Pulpo Paul’s picks so great. He (and his owner) put it all on the line in each game. No excuses. No complex models. Just pick a clam out of a box with a flag on it.
The other thing about the choices were the audience knew their accuracy just a day or two afterward. No waiting for months or years as in the case of business modeling.
And hey, sometimes that’s the way it is with decisions startups make, too. Sometimes why something worked or didn’t work might as well be explained as a clam in a box. It doesn’t mean you don’t act; it doesn’t mean you don’t try to get an edge or learn. But sometimes it just happens. Being lucky is ok with me. And to remind myself, no pulpo gallego until the 2014 World Cup.
But some advice to Pulpo Paul’s owner: Never let him predict anything ever again. Not even a coin toss.