Forecasters Anonymous band tries again

THE WORD sagacious came up. The assemblage of well-known Stateline Area personages engaged in a fair amount of chin pulling and head scratching.

Finally, one particularly resourceful fellow resorted to his smartphone and looked it up.

Sagacious means: “Having or showing keen mental discernment and good judgment; shrewd; wise; clever; intelligent; knowledgeable.”

Well.

If you have to look it up, the adjective doesn’t apply.

YES, IT’S time again for that much-maligned — and deservedly so — secret cabal calling itself Forecasters Anonymous to deliver its annual round of predictions.

This nonsense has been going on for decades. The group gathers at the end of each year for the purpose of foolishness, over-eating and ill-informed prognostications. The meetings are held in secret at an undisclosed location. Attendees insist on anonymity, no doubt to avoid the embarrassment of people finding out how little they actually understand the world around them.

Suffice to say there are names often associated with leadership in industry, finance, building, academia, healthcare and business. Younger members remain active in their chosen fields, while the older folks have shuffled off to the rocking chairs.

Every year there are fewer and fewer of the young.

EACH DECEMBER members of the group include a journalist, perhaps because placing nouns and verbs and punctuation together in a sentence is a skill that eludes them.

The journalist — that’s me; I inherited the duty from my friend, the late Bill Behling — is tasked with recording the predictions, though I confess to being puzzled why anyone would choose to preserve proof of such dismal failure year after year.

But let’s get on with it, first by taking a look at how predictions made in December 2015 compared to the truths known in December 2016. Here’s a clue: There were 28 questions posed. The best anyone did — and it’s not bad, by the way — is to be wrong on 25 percent of them. The worst managed to be wrong 54 percent of the time. Most others were on the embarrassing end of that yardstick as well.

HERE’S THE first clue to the overall lousy performance. Most thought Hillary Clinton would be our next president.

Only one person had enough faith to see the Dow finishing above 19,000. Lots predicted a tax increase in Illinois; in fact, Illinois can’t even pass a budget, two years running. If this group had been right, Russ Feingold would be back in the U.S. Senate and the Arizona Cardinals would be Super Bowl champs. And the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would be dead. Too bad they got that one wrong.

On some others the forecasters performed well.

They predicted David Zibolski would be Beloit’s new police chief. The United States would win the Ryder Cup. The Chicago Cubs would win the World Series. Dave Luebke would be chosen president of the Beloit City Council. Beloit’s Jim Caldwell would still be coaching the Detroit Lions. And Democrats would not capture control of the Senate in the fall elections.

They also got it right that Turner would have a better football record than Beloit Memorial, though the Knights did eke out a win in the season finale.

DRUM ROLL, please. Or, maybe not. The historic record reflects readers should not take these predictions for 2017 too seriously. Among forecasts for the coming year:

• Town of Beloit citizens will not vote to incorporate.

• Kevin Leavy or Regina Dunkin will become president of Beloit’s council.

• Norm Jacobs will be elected to the Turner School Board.

• The Dow will finish the year somewhere between 19,000 and 21,350.

• Turner will still have the better football record in 2017.

• Scott Walker will run for a third term.

• The Packers will have a better record than the Bears (OK, that’s just too easy).

• Gas may be as high as $2.75 a gallon by year-end.

• Casey Affleck, Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington will win the Oscar for Best Actor.

• President Trump will send more military ground forces into the Mideast.

• The United States will void its nuclear agreement with Iran.

THERE’S MORE, but why spoil your day?

After all, when it comes to tomorrow the fun is in getting there — not knowing what waits for us.

But rest assured we’ll be back in a year to tell you how the intrepid Forecasters Anonymous group performed. Expectations should be kept low.

Until then, have a great year.

William Barth is the Editor of the Beloit Daily News.

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