Conversations with Pluto - Predicting future

I lost a thousand Rupees and two fish during the world cup football; courtesy betting. The money, I lost to the boy from the neighborhood shop for betting on Brazil to lift the cup this time. I always rooted for Brazil when it comes to Football, irrespective of the odds, and this bet was more an emotional act. The fish I lost to Pluto, my neighbor's cat the day Brazil lost to Netherlands. This bet was but based on a rational analysis, considering the performance of the two teams till then. You can argue it was a stupid decision, how the hell did I expect a cat getting me two fishes in case he lost? But the fact is he didn't. Just like Serbia's win over Germany, he accurately predicted Brazil's loss in that unfortunate quarter final match.

So Paul and Mani are not the only soothsayers in town. Pluto the cat had also predicted all the results quite accurately. He refused to bet against me when I said in-form Argentina will not reach the semi-finals. I was skeptical about breaking this news till now, worried about the ridicule. Talking about a cat's uncanny ability to foresee future is one thing, while a talking cat is quite another! But when Paul became an instant internet celebrity, I thought I should tell the world about Pluto as well. So I sat down to write the story. But as if anticipating this, Pluto came into the room and jumped on to the table.

'So you want to know how I did it', he asked me.

I never expected him to share his secret with me. So with much excitement I said 'Of course!'

'I didn't do it', he said without blinking an eye.

I was angry that he spoiled my story about the great soothsayer in my own house. 'what do you mean', I asked.

'The roaches did it', he said.

'what roaches?'

'Ok, let me ask you this.. where do you keep the old newspapers?', he quizzed me as if I don't know my own backyard.

'On the platform by the sink in the kitchen', I replied.

'Under the exhaust pipe, correct?' he added.

'yes, so what?', I didn't understand the plot.

He put on that all-knowing smile and said 'you know who lives up the exhaust pipe?'

'Yes I do, the filthy cockroaches'.

'And have you seen them shit? defaecate, I mean', he winked at me.

'Come on man, whats the point? Why will I see the roaches defaecate?', I was losing patience.

'That is your problem.. you never see the things that are right in front of you and search for answers in the far far world. The roaches don't defaecate just anywhere.. there is a method in the way they do it'

I felt like punching him on the face for the lecture. 'So if you draw a straight line through the shit particles, you get an Octahedron with the diagonal and side lengths in Golden ratio? Are you suggesting something like this?'

'Looks like you read too much into Davinci Code. The issue here is much simple. The roaches been consistently shitting on the losing team's picture, name or flag on the newspaper. I simply noticed this and you didn't', Pluto said triumphantly, licking the last morsels of fish off his paws.

'You must be kidding. How can those dumb roaches predict the future? You are making this all up', I could not agree to what he said.

'Ever heard of wisdom of the crowds, you dumbo?' he asked amusingly.

'No, I have heard of madness of the crowds'

'There you go again. Wisdom of the crowds is a postulate which says that the intelligence of the crowd will always be greater than that of the most intelligent guy in the group, or at times even greater than the sum of the parts', he explained with an air of authority.

'Who says so?', I wasn't ready to accept defeat lying down.

'Heard of the Iowa Electronic Markets, IEM, which has been consistently predicting the election results more accurate than the Gallop poll, for the last 20 years?'

I had no choice but to accept my ignorance.

'Well, this is a project of the College of Business in the University of Iowa, where a few thousand people are collectively allowed to predict the outcomes of elections, indirectly based on future contracts they buy/sell in the exchange. They have been doing this better than all the national polls for so many years now'. Pluto never wastes a chance to show off.

'OK', I said, not knowing what else to say.

'So your roaches have a better probability of getting the predictions right compared to Mani or Paul, as they use collective intelligence', he concluded.

'mmmm.. take it that I buy your bull, but how do these animals know the future?', I asked.

He stared at me for a moment and said 'as they say in the movies, you are given information on a need to know basis and you don't need to know that'.

'Oh', said I, rushing to the kitchen to see who the roaches are shitting on lately. Who knows, I might make a fortune with these roaches in the future!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...