Magic, mystery and medicine make up a potent mix at this year´s Annual Skeptics Conference, being held at St Andrews College, Christchurch, over 21-23 September.

Magicians Michael Woolf and Geoff Diggs will be talking about preconceptions, misconceptions and sheer gullibility, and quite possibility fooling not a few conference attendees along the way. The mystery component of the conference comes from the presentation by natural history film-maker Mark Orton, whose documentary “Prints of Darkness” investigates the perennial sightings of the “Ashburton panther”. A more sobering topic for skeptical consideration is that of the growing alternative and complementary medicine industry.

The opening of a Rife clinic in Christchurch which charges large amounts for a machine said to explode bacteria and parasites involved in over 800 different illness recently gained press attention, with sports star Steve Gurney endorsing the product. The Skeptics are planning to kick off their Friday social gathering with a genial competition to put together their own boxes of electronic bits. The conference announcement notes wryly that “as with many such products in the alternative medicine industry, your box need not actually do anything to win a prize!”

Along with the two-days of presentations covering a diverse range of topics, the output of journalists over the past 12 months will be scrutinised and lambasted and lauded at the 2007 Bent Spoon and Bravo Awards, when the New Zealand Skeptics announce their annual prize for the most gullible piece of reporting in the past year as well as celebrating critical thinking.

2007 Skeptics Conference St Andrews College, Normans Rd, Christchurch September 21-23

More information on the conference programme and registration form available here:

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