Paul The Octopus cant be a psychic -but his care taker could.

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Right now, if you query Google for &#8220-Paul octopus psychic&#8220-, you get 3 million results. But that can&#8217-t be. Here&#8217-s why.

To divine the future, Paul The Octopus should send an information backward in time within his own mind. That can only be possible if the octopus is made aware of whether its prediction is right or wrong. But Paul The Octopus was not aware that it was being used as an oracle, and it was never aware of the outcome of the different Word Cup matches.

Hence, if you want an extra-rational explanation of the squid&#8217-s predictive skills, you have to turn your eyes instead to its German handler at the Sea Aquarium of Oberhausen. Only that humanoid could send an information (about the soccer match) backward in his/her mind.

Here&#8217-s how it would work. The octopus handler would receive 2 pieces of information from the future: one, which box the squid is going to pick (the one on the left or the one on the right), and, two, which soccer team is going to win. Armed with these 2 pieces of information, the octopus handler decides (in the past) where to put the box with the flag of the country whose team has won &#8212-on the left or on the right, in the aquarium.

If you don&#8217-t follow my logic, leave a comment, and I will re-explain. It is all about reversing the psychological arrow of time, so as to remember the future instead of the past.

Derren Brown’s lottery win = A split camera trick disguised as “wisdom of crowds”

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Derren Brown: How to Win the Lottery (Channel 4 in the U.K.)


On 9 September 2009, [British illusionist] Derren Brown conducted a live TV broadcast in which he suggested that he had successfully predicted the winning National Lottery numbers prior to them being drawn. During the broadcast a number of blank lottery balls were displayed on a glass stand in clear view of the camera, and after the lottery draw had been made, the balls were rotated to reveal the winning numbers. It was claimed by Derren Brown that the only other people in the studio were two camera operators, to avoid legal issues, and that the stunt had been authorised by Camelot, the National Lottery operators.

Great Britain is buzzing like crazy about the stunt.

He claimed it was based on an old trick which tells how a crowd of people at a country fair accurately estimated the weight of an ox when their guesses were all averaged out. He gathered a panel of 24 people who wrote down their predictions after studying the last year’s worth of numbers. Then they added up all the guesses for each ball and divided it by 24 to get the average guess. On the first go they only got one number right, on the second attempt they managed three and on the third they guessed four. By the time of last week’s draw they had honed their technique to get six correct guesses, and these were the numbers shown on the Wednesday night programme. [Derren] Brown claims that the predictions were correct because of the “wisdom of the crowd” theory which suggests that a large group of people making average guesses will come up with the correct figure as an average of all their attempts. He also suggested that if the people were motivated by money, it may not work.

Well, we know a lot about the “wisdom of crowds“, here, as Midas Oracle specializes in collective intelligence. The idea of the “wisdom of crowds” is to aggregate bits of information that are dispersed in a population of independently minded individuals. The result of that information aggregation is a predictive power slightly superior (on average, over the long term) to what one single individual can produce —even a gifted one. However, the “wisdom of crowds” is not powerful enough to predict the future with 100% certainty. For that, you would have to reverse the psychological arrow of time —so as to remember the future as opposed to the past. Physicists tell us this is impossible in our universe. Hence, Derren Brown used a trick [WATCH THE 3RD VIDEO BELOW] —and concealed it with some blahblah about the “wisdom of crowds”.

“Check the ball on the right after Derren Brown says ‘23′. Notice it mysteriously jumps up and is slightly higher than the other 5 balls. (apologies for the camera wobble but my camera is on a tripod, the wobble is from the camera on the show which is programmed to wobble so you can’t see the switch of the balls). So no magic, NLP, psychology or mind-tricks. Just good old fashioned camera trickery.

How Derren Brown ‘divined’ the lotto numbers:

For the tip, thanks to Emile Servan-Schreiber of NewsFutures —we’re impatient to see the new version of their software / prediction market website.

Next: Why did illusionist Derren Brown invoke the “wisdom of crowds” in his lottery win explanation?


His next event: Trying to beat the casino.

Science Of Scams – Advert from Phillis Dorris on Vimeo.

Another video

Another video

Could information go backward in time?

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Applied to the psychological arrow of time, that would mean that we could remember the future, instead of the past. We would make a killing on prediction markets if we knew in advance how all contacts would expire. :-D

But, in micro physics, strange things are common. Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote about the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox, lately, but he got all things wrong.

I did a quick research on the Internet and found out that Olivier Costa De Beauregard is still hot on his interpretation of the EPR paradox &#8212-interpretation which introduces the concept of &#8220-zigzagging causality&#8221-, and which abides by both the physics of quantum mechanics and Einstein&#8217-s physics of general relativity.

Timelike Nonseparability and Retrocausation &#8211- PDF file

My thoughts:

  1. Reading Eliezer Yudkowsky at Overcoming Bias is a waste of time.
  2. It&#8217-s better to read the best physicists directly, when you are interesting in an issue.
  3. Robin Hanson and Olivier Costa De Beauregard should meet around a round of white Porto. They both studied (and are fond of) both physics and philosophy.
  4. As always, the solutions to complex problems (e.g., the EPR paradox) are crazy. &#8220-Zigzagging causality&#8221- is crazy, but it might well be the solution.
  5. Discoverers like Robin Hanson and Olivier Costa De Beauregard were often called on their craziness. When Louis De Broglie first heard about the &#8220-zigzagging causality&#8221- idea, he suggested to his secretary that Olivier Costa De Beauregard had a screw lose. Robin Hanson is familiar with that kind of reaction. :-D