That arbitrary slice of the continuum of time known as 1993 has been a busy one for the New Zealand Skeptics. High spot of the year was the visit of James Randi in early July. Unfortunately, his timetable allowed only four public appearances, one each in Christchurch and Auckland and two in Wellington.
However, those unable to see him in person had plenty of opportunity to see him on TV, hear him on radio and read about him in newspapers and magazines. He was tireless in submitting himself to the punishing round of interviews, etc, arranged by our enthusiastic Media Representative. Every interviewer wanted to see him bend spoons, and he left behind him a trail of bent and broken cutlery, the bill for which was not negligible.
The Annual Conference, held in Christchurch in September, offered an interesting programme, and attracted good audiences of members and others. As with the Randi visit, a gratifying degree of attention from the media was earned. Outstanding in this respect were the contributions of Professor Michael Hill on “Satanic Panics” and of Assistant Commissioner Ian Holyoake on “Police Use of Psychics”. Mike Dickison on “Maori Science” and Feike de Bock on “The Manna Machine” also received notice. Margaret Mahy honoured us with a splendid after-dinner speech.
At the Annual General meeting of NZCSICOP the reports from the Chair, Treasurer and Media Representative were presented and accepted. The reports indicate a generally satisfactory year’s activity, but a wide- ranging discussion on funding and our public image dispelled any sense of complacency.
The officers were elected unchanged, and the Committee for the year will be Kerry Chamberlain, Mike Dickison, Warwick Don, Heather Mackay and Hugh Young. A request from a skeptic group in the US for our mailing list, in return for a subscription to their magazine, was discussed in light of recent privacy legislation in New Zealand. It was agreed on the voices to provide the list on condition it not be passed on.
(The publishers of The Skeptic in the US have decided not to use the list due to the sorts of qualms raised by the AGM. Keep an eye out for an ad concerning this informative and entertaining new publication. You may want to subscribe.)
At the local level, activity has been patchy. In Wellington Prof Peter Munz spoke on “The Historical Survival of Superstition” and in Christchurch we hosted the Craigieburn Moa Spotters. The rest is silence.
Recruitment of new members has been brisk, and would have been even better if people knew how to get in touch with us (see a letter in the Listener, 13 November 1993). This is a weakness to be worked on. Nonetheless, membership now stands at over 300.