Iran’s president is no fan of World-Cup-predicting Octopus -

Iran’s president is no fan of World-Cup-predicting Octopus

Paul is proof that West should not lead the world: Ahmadinejad


Paul the Octopus—the German cephalopod who predicted the outcome of Germany’s World Cup games—is nothing but “Western propaganda and superstition,” said Iran’s president on the weekend. Paul predicted the winner of all seven matches involving Germany by choosing a mussel from either a jar with the German flag or a jar with the opposing team’s flag. “Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd in Tehran.


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Iran’s president is no fan of World-Cup-predicting Octopus

  1. I actually think he's got a point, but he sure picked a bad example. Those who take the octopus seriously speculate about rational causes for its prescience. There's no cult of the octopus in Germany so far as I know.

    It does seem to be the case, however, that Western society is increasingly becoming superstitious in the sense of believing in hauntings, communication with the dead, and predictions from I Ching / Ouija boards / Tarot cards / horoscopes. As surveys have shown, this seems to be correlated with higher education (not surprising, given the damaging indoctrination together with a deemphasis on critical thinking in much of today's higher education) and loss of the more traditional Western religions (again, not surprising – once one rejects rational spirituality one becomes susceptible to irrational spirituality).

    • The article you cite is itself as guilty of many of the rhetorical flaws it derides in the eminently deridable nutbars such as Dawkins and Maher. While having a quick wit and snappy Twitter-friendly takes on religion can make one popular and wealthy in mainstream society – on any side of an issue – you would be correct in observing that it doesn't make those views accurate or insightful.

      In its conclusion, the author quotes a character from a novel: "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can't see things as they are." The statistics cited by the author certainly tell a certain story, as laid out, but are hardly convincing that there is a direct causal relationship between your particular religion and belief in other silliness. There is no cross reference to socio-economic status, education, hair colour or favourite Teletubby, for example.

      • One can certainly debate whether higher education, loss of traditional religion, and atheism are causing the measured increase in superstition and pseudoscience, but one can't contest the fact that they are correlated to it. Nor can one contest the fact that superstition is on the rise in the West. Both the correlation and the increase are measured observables, and it is on these that my point rests.

        • The article does not use the studies to which you refer about higher education. Personally, I have not had the experience of being "indoctrinated" in any of the politcal science, history or philosophy classes I have taken. My professors have all been highly tolerant of reasoned arguments that are diametrically opposed to their own views. But that's just me. I am not aware of programs that are so heavy handed that they force students to take views they do not believe in.

          As for correlations, and measured observables, there is an attempt at inference I woudl be equally uncomfortable with if it were going the other way. And, as you know from previous exchanges, I tend to be more sympathetic to challenging religion than finding solutions there.

    • We can't even count on self-described atheists to be strict rationalists. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's monumental "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey" that was issued in June, 21% of self-proclaimed atheists believe in either a personal God or an impersonal force. Ten percent of atheists pray at least weekly and 12% believe in heaven.

      Breaking news, some people are just stupid. By definition you can't be an atheist and still believe in the supernatural. Not only are these people not atheists, they are also clearly in need of a dictionary.

      once one rejects rational spirituality one becomes susceptible to irrational spirituality

      I am very curious to hear the justification behind the rational difference between believing in the existence of ghosts, and believing in being able to talk to them.

      • There's a difference between spirituality and worshipping a specific god. Atheism is simply put the disbelief of God or deities. There's a far cry from wondering if Grandma's spirit is roaming around her favorite tree and believing in a supreme being (or set of them.)

        So, since you brought up the use of a dictionary, I thought I would at least give you the link to the definition of atheist:

        • You are right of course. That's what I get for letting my annoyance at stupid people get the better of me.

    • A small number of people falling into superstitions different from your superstition must therefore be irrational and a problem.

      Could be a Roman commenting on the new irrational Cult of Christ…

      • Had the Romans thought that, they'd have combated it with dispassionate reason rather than trying to kill everyone who professed to be a Christian. They tried to silence it precisely because it made so much sense that those who heard about it with an open mind often became converts, even though this generally meant that they would be hunted down and tortured to death.

        • They also persecuted the Jews and the Druids, and a number of other religions who's values conflicted with those of the Romans.

  2. Not to mention the immodest display of EIGHT naked legs.

    • Not to mention all that obscene tentacle erotica. Astaghfirullah!

      • Oh dear. I can't believe I've made it forty years without knowing that existed.

        • That is one strange, little frog.

        • I take it you are not a regular viewer of Mad Men. That Japanese print was part of the office decor for Bert Cooper.

  3. “Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd in Tehran.

    "My Sky Cake is the truth and your Sky Baklava is nothing but superstition!"

    On a related note:

  4. This only shows that the Iranian President has no sense of humor and fun. What a sad, sad place to live…

    • It's anything but. Things Ahmadinejad says are just as relevant to Iranian society as things Bush said were to American society. You can be sure that nobody makes more fun of Ahmadinejad than Iranians themselves.

      • Why then is he and the rest still in power? Somebody has to support them.

        • Were you seriously not paying attention to the election results last year?

          • I did, but I also saw the lynching of foreigners done by ordinary Iranians on the street a while back. If Iranians would like to get out from the whole they dug themselves in, they should dig themselves out without the interference from the outside. That way, change will be more meaningful and long lasting.

  5. I'll take Paul over Ahmadinejad

  6. Had the Octopus wore Burka, Mahmoud would have been it's greatest fan.

    • FYI, Iranians don't wear burkas.

      • Ah! No wonder Mahmoud is not in good mood!

  7. maybe the octupus should try to predict when the twelfth imam will show up!

  8. Ahmadinejad is going to freak when he finds out drunk monkeys set the price of oil.

  9. Or had Mahmoud just eaten an octopus for it to occupy his brain when he could have been busy making sure that Iranian society reached the ultimate of human perfection? Have I read it right "Human Perfection"? Wow! that is one hell of an asylum.