Even with all the gray hair in the room, no one could answer the question.
Which was, “When did this group start?”
The longest memories stretched to the mid-1970s, yet that was not the beginning.
Lost to the mists of time.
And that may be just as well. Wisdom, it is said, comes with age. Unless, apparently, one is a member of Forecasters Anonymous.
The group gathers near the end of each year, although in December 2020 the pandemic required a virtual session. For 2021 it was back to an in-person luncheon, after which the assembled members turned their collective attention to future-gazing.
Anonymity is part of the process. Folks around Greater Beloit would recognize most of the names. To avoid embarrassment these fearless leaders of business, industry, finance, academia and more conceal their identities. You see, while these people may have sparkling reputations in their fields, they have an unbroken record of abysmal failure when it comes to predicting the future.
They are, however, very good at eating too much and, now and then, falling asleep at the tables.
A poor itinerant journalist like me is admitted because, unlike several other members, I can usually put a noun and verb in proper order to form a sentence. Thus, the group’s predictions are compiled and put forward so readers can enjoy a good chuckle as the new year gets going.
There were 30 questions posed a year ago, forecasting what might happen in 2021. The top performer in the group was wrong about 35% of the time. At the other ignominious end, the worst—three tied for that distinct honor—got 60% of the questions wrong.
Let’s look back at the group’s consensus for 2021, along with high and low marks. On the plus side, most thought Governor Evers would approve the Ho-Chunk casino, and he did; most thought the Bucks would make the NBA finals, and they did; and most thought Trump would skip Biden’s inauguration, which he did.
Then there’s the negative. Most picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Nope. Most thought gas would cost about $2.25 a gallon. We wish. Most thought Biden would roll back the Trump tax cuts. The Senate filibuster rule thought otherwise. Most thought The Lincoln Academy would have about 250 students its first year. The number is 400. Nearly everyone predicted a new development plan for the Beloit Post Office site. Not. And the group unanimously believed Turner would have a better football record than Memorial. Bragging rights, if you want to call it that, went to Memorial with a record of 3-6, better than Turner’s 1-8.
So, what about 2022? Will the group’s performance be better? If history is a guide, the answer is no. But here’s a sampling of Forecasters Anonymous predictions for the coming year:
Tony Evers will lose his bid for a second term as Wisconsin’s governor.
Aaron Rodgers will not leave the Packers after this season.
Republicans will capture majorities in both houses of Congress.
Sadly, the School District of Beloit will not improve on its one-star state rating.
The Packers—Who else?—will be Super Bowl champs.
Amy Loudenbeck will be elected Wisconsin’s Secretary of State.
The 2022 Wisconsin election will not be marred by claims of voter fraud.
The price of gas in December will be about $3.50 a gallon.
Ron Johnson will be re-elected to the Senate.
At least one new service/retail business will locate along the new Hwy. 81 off Hart Road.
Gateway Business Park will attract a new industry with at least 300 employees.
The Jan. 6 committee will not issue a criminal referral against Trump.
The School District of Beloit will not propose a referendum in 2022.
The Supreme Court will not overturn Roe v. Wade.
About 100,000 people will attend games at ABC Supply Stadium this season.
There’s more, but we’ll spare readers. Suffice to say some questions just aren’t worth repeating.
It’s all, of course, in good-natured fun. Not divulging names is a rule for Forecasters Anonymous, but I’m on safe ground noting these are individuals whose efforts have contributed in countless positive ways to our community.
In other words, they’re better at hard work than at predicting the future.
In about 12 months we’ll see how the group’s guesswork turns out.
Until then, to readers and all our fellow Greater Beloiters, here’s wishing you a great new year.
William Barth is the former Editor of the Beloit Daily News. Write to him at email@example.com