Vicki Hyde presents the chair-entity’s report for 2009.

The past year since our last conference has proved a busy one for the organisation with a number of initiatives both within the society and by associates.

Al Dennard took over as Treasurer last year and we appreciate his taking up the role. We’re always keen to hear from members suggestions of ways to use our funds.

One major activity was the secondary schools mailout of the Oddzone book. We received many heartening letters and emails from school librarians pleased to have some alternative information available to their pupils.

We have also been providing copies to interested journalists to help give them some background on the paranormal stories which come up time and time again.

There will be a further drive to spread that prior to the start of the summer silly season. Contacts with journalists have continued throughout the year, covering a range of fields though concentrating on mediums as a result of many tours by psychic performers.

We’re looking to support a number of possible tours in the next year. Richard Saunders of the Australian Skeptics is looking to bring his Mystery Investigators show across the Tasman. PZ Myers, of the Pharyngula science blog is willing to visit New Zealand after attending the World Atheists’ Convention in Melbourne next March. Nathan Grange has been in touch to see how we can work in with James Randi’s next trip to these parts, depending on how James’ health pans out.

It’s been pleasing to see memberships rise after remaining relatively static for a number of years. We now have around 500 members, up from 436 at the beginning of the year. The Skeptics Alert list has around 1,000 people on it.

Our Secretary, Paul Ashton, has been keeping track of memberships and introducing a number of helpful improvements in membership handling and communications. If you’ve used the Paypal-based credit card payment system, do please give Paul a pat on the back for the convenience.

We have had a boost as a result of the excellent work by Gold in establishing the informal Skeptics in the Pub network, now operating in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. This is not a formal activity by the society itself, but is worthy of support as a means of greater community outreach and promotion of critical thinking and skeptical ideas. We look forward to seeing it grow, and helping it do so.

I also spoke with Brad Scott of NZ Paranormal Investigators, in a lengthy podcast that brought our message of open-mindedness, enthusiasm and humour in a critical thinking context to an entirely new audience.

Our thanks go to Dave, Michelle and the other Wellington members who have pitched in to produce another excellent conference.

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