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OUT OF MIND » PERCEPTUAL AWARENESS » OTHER DIMENSIONAL » Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery

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Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Street-lamp-feature
Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery

  • 9 Comments and 10 Reactions
  • May 21, 2013
  • Louis Proud

Let’s say there’s a row of street lamps you pass every
day while going to and from work. They are, being typical, modern
street lamps, of the low-pressure sodium-vapor variety, emitting a red
glow at start up and, once they’re operating fully, a steady monochrome
yellow. The lamps automatically switch on at sundown, via the activation
of a light-sensitive cell, or photocell. The cell is triggered again
when sunlight returns at dawn, switching the lamps off. Generally,
rather than each lamp having its own photocell, a single photocell is
used to control a whole group of street lamps.

You’re returning home from work on what has so far been a completely
typical evening, the street lamps illuminating your way as you stroll
down the footpath. No one else is around. Oddly, the street lamp nearest
you suddenly blinks out, turning on again as soon as you’ve passed it. A
level-headed person, you attribute the event to coincidence and think
no more of it. Three evenings later, however, while passing the same row
of lamps, the phenomenon occurs again. On this occasion, three
successive lamps are affected, each one blinking out as you approach,
only to suddenly blink on again the moment you step away.

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Streetlamp

What on earth just happened? Did you influence the lamps with the
power of your mind? Or is there a mundane explanation for these events?

Known as street lamp Interference (SLI), experiences of this nature
are common, with people in many different parts of the world claiming
“that they involuntarily, and usually spontaneously, cause street lamps
to go out. Generally the effect is intermittent, infrequent and without
an immediately discernable sequence of cause and effect.”1

These are the words of the British paranormal scholar Hilary Evans,
who, prior to his death in 2011, was the foremost authority on SLI.
(“SLIder” is the term he coined to refer to someone who reports a SLI
experience.) In addition to being a pictorial archivist and author of
numerous books on the Fortean, he helped found, in 1981, the Association
for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP). After
receiving numerous reports from people claiming that street
lamps respond to their presence in an inexplicable fashion, Evans
decided to take on the mystery, collecting hundreds of accounts of SLI
through his Street Lamp Interference Data Exchange (SLIDE). The
culmination of this research – what turned out to be his final book – is
the brief yet highly impressive SLIDERS: The Enigma of Street Light Interference (2010). “SLI… can reasonably be regarded as a phenomenon in its own right,” he argued.2

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Redlight1

Frankly, when I first heard of SLI I considered it largely
insignificant and boring, regardless of whether or not the phenomenon
had a paranormal basis. I hastily concluded that most, if not all, SLI
experiences could be accounted for as a result of people perceiving
connections that have no basis in reality. For, as everybody knows,
street lamps can and do malfunction from time to time, and people are
bound to walk past them at the moment these malfunctions occur. After
taking a deeper look at the phenomenon, however, I came to the
unavoidable conclusion that we’re dealing with a genuine mystery – and,
what’s more, an important and fascinating one. I agree with Evans when
he says: “If true… claims [of SLI] carry profound and exciting
implications for science and for our knowledge of human potential.”3

It’s time we examined some of those claims. Richard M, a professional
magician in his thirties who lives in London, England, recalls the
moment he became aware of his SLI ability. A teenager at the time, he
was taking his dog for a walk when he noticed “that lights were going out when we walked under them and then flickering back on when we had passed.” He continues:

“It didn’t frighten me but I became conscious of it. I remember
walking under them trying to make them go out but I couldn’t. The moment
I stopped willing it to happen, it would start again – like someone
catching me out. I sort of anticipated it for a while and didn’t really
tell anyone about it. A few years ago, I noticed it happening again –
the first time for a long time. Again, I was with my dog and this time
we turned out a number of lights in a car park across the road. I told a
close friend when I got home and he came out to watch from the other
side of the road. As we walked around the park, they all went out as we
passed under them, and then came back on when we had moved away… I seem
to recall that both periods coincided with stress, some of it quite

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Nighttime-lamps

If SLI involves psychokinesis – or some other form of psi – it
figures that the ability would be more inclined to manifest while one is
in an abnormal mood or state of consciousness. For, as shown by
experiments in parapsychology, our everyday state of consciousness is
virtually useless when it comes to psychic functioning. How interesting,
then, that the two SLI experiences described by Richard occurred while
he was stressed. That a stressed or aroused state of mind encourages SLI
ability is suggested by the testimony of a man from Yorkshire, England,
referred to as Dan C.

It was early one morning in 1991, when he was nineteen, that Dan’s
history of SLI began. He was heading home from his girlfriend’s house,
where the two of them had engaged in a steamy “smooching session,” when a
street lamp went out as he approached it. At first he attributed the
incident to a “dodgy bulb.” However, the lamp did the same thing the
following night. When the incident happened a third time, he “started to
think something was up.” Further strange incidents with the street lamp
followed. Explains Dan: “Over the months, as I returned home from my
girlfriend’s house, the light would always do the opposite as to its
original state, i.e. if it was off it would turn on and vice versa.
After I’d passed the light-post, it would usually revert to its original

As was found to be the case for Richard, Dan discovered that the
phenomenon behaved according to its own set of rules, largely resisting
his attempts to control it. On one occasion, for example, keen to
demonstrate his SLI ability to doubting friends, he made them watch
while he approached the street lamp, only to make himself look a fool by
failing to duplicate the effect. A number of SLI experiences later,
involving not just the one street lamp but several different lamps, Dan
became aware of a pattern: the phenomenon generally coincided with his
being in a particular state of mind. He describes this as “quite tired,
on edge, nervous of my surroundings… and I reckon my adrenaline levels
must have been up.” He concludes: “This sort of explains why I couldn’t
‘perform’ in front of my friends, having been in a relaxed situation. I
have since shut my friends up as I have shown my ability on more than
one occasion.”6

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Poltergiest There
is clearly a connection between sex and SLI. This connection deepens
when examined in light of William G. Roll’s recurrent spontaneous
psychokinesis (RSPK) interpretation of poltergeist disturbances.
According to the RSPK model, these amazing demonstrations of
mind-over-matter – of objects flying around houses and electrical
equipment going haywire – occur as a result of sexual and emotional
tension on the part of the “focus,” who more often than not is a
troubled teenager undergoing puberty. Are the mechanisms at work in
poltergeist disturbances the same as those involved in SLI?

That the state of arousal produced by sexual activity plays a role in
SLI is nowhere more evident than in the case of Bob Lovely, from
Montana, USA. Bob says his SLI ability became especially apparent when,
at one point in his life, he was dating a woman who lived across the
other side of town from him, to whom he paid frequent evening visits. It
was while making these nightly trips that Bob occasionally saw rows of
street lamps switch off as he passed them in his car, so that “each lamp
I passed would go out as I was passing it.” Most interesting of all,
however, is that the phenomenon always occurred on those evenings when
he and his girlfriend had had intercourse. “On other evenings some lamps
would go out but not like on the ones when our passions had been

Whereas some SLIders say they affect only street lamps, other say
their ability extends to a whole range of electrical devices, from
battery-operated wrist watches to railroad crossings to aircraft
navigation equipment. Diana B, an office worker from Texas, USA, belongs
to the latter category. Not only do street lamps dim and go out when
she approaches them at night, sometimes they also turn on when she
approaches them during the day. Regular light bulbs and fluorescent
lights also behave oddly in her presence, such as when she goes to a
restaurant or enters the home of a friend. There have been occasions,
too, when automatic garage doors have suddenly gone haywire on her,
opening and closing quickly “in a crazy way.”

According to Diana, her ability to affect electrical devices becomes
heightened whenever she’s in a state of excitement or high energy.
During these times, she can hold a compass in her hands and the needle
will start to spin wildly, coming to a rest the moment she puts the
compass down. Handheld tape recorders pose a special problem for Diana,
either refusing to record when she wants them to or breaking down
altogether. “I went through about 10 of them over a period of a couple
of months,” she says. “Once it was so bad it even wiped out what was on
the tape.”8

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Oldrecorder

Interestingly, countless instances of malfunctioning electrical
equipment, involving recording devices especially, have been observed in
relation to psychics like Uri Geller and Matthew Manning, as well as in
connection with poltergeist disturbances, UFO sightings and even crop
circles. Who isn’t familiar with the scenario whereby an enthusiastic
investigator attempts to record some form of paranormal activity on film
or cassette, only to find that his equipment has suddenly and
inexplicably broken down, or, more frustrating still, that the tape came
out blank? Much to the gratification of skeptics – who fail to
comprehend that paranormal events are, by their very nature, as slippers
as subatomic particles, resisting all attempts to be pinned down – such
occurrences are a matter of course.

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Uri_geller

In terms of what’s known about the human body by contemporary,
orthodox science, Diana’s strange talent shouldn’t exist, and therefore
she must be either lying or deluded. But if such is the case, why have
so many others come forward with similar claims, most of them perfectly
normal human beings? Many of those who contacted Evans to inform him of
their SLI experiences had never heard of the phenomenon until coming
across his research, previously considering their ability unique or
doubting their own sanity. To quote one SLIder: “I couldn’t believe this
was a phenomenon that others shared with me. I just thought I was

There are indications that SLI has a physical, measurable component,
and that even the run-of-the-mill physicist or biologist would be able
to make some headway into penetrating the mystery. For instance, some
SLIders, including Diana, have a tendency to accumulate (or perhaps
generate within the body itself) a high static charge. She explains: “I…
can get very charged with static electricity, so much so that sparks
actually fly around me and if anyone else is close by the sparks will
connect with them.” Similar comments from other SLIders include, “I
build up static electricity like crazy,” and “I seem to get more static
shocks than other people.”10

Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery Chi Of
course, not all SLIders have issues with static electricity, and while
it’s true that someone with a high static charge has the potential to
interfere with electrical equipment, they cannot do so from a distance;
only by means of contact. That a statically charged person would be able
to influence a street lamp mounted high above them is therefore
extremely unlikely. And let us not forget that some incidents of SLI
occur while the individual is seated in their car, a car being a crude
form of Faraday cage, blocking static and non-static electric fields.
One needn’t be a scientist to realize that the phenomenon is hard to
account for in terms of electromagnetism alone, and must therefore
involve some other form of energy – perhaps what the Taoists call “chi,”
or what Wilhelm Reich dubbed “orgone.”

Speculation aside, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that at least
some incidents of SLI can be attributed to entirely mundane causes, a
combination of mechanical and psychological factors. Skeptics of SLI are
keen to point out that when the bulbs in sodium-vapor street lamps
reach the end of their life they undergo a phenomenon known as
“cycling,” switching on and off every few minutes until a technician
comes along and replaces the bulb. It can also happen that the bulb
becomes slightly dislodged from its socket, so that even a minor
vibration – such as that caused by a passing car or a person – is enough
to make the lamp blink out for a moment.

Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of
Hertfordshire, England, was asked to give his opinion on SLI for the Daily Mail
newspaper. A dedicated member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
(CSI), he cited “observer bias” as the culprit, stating that “street
lamps are going on and off all the time… People only have to walk under a
couple of lamps going off to think that they might be the cause.”11

Had Wiseman looked at the evidence properly, he’d realize that
observer bias is not the whole story. When we eliminate this and other
obvious explanations for SLI, we’re left with an exciting possibility:
that the phenomenon is due to psychokinesis. Evans discusses this notion
in his book, suggesting that some kind of “force” is at work when a
SLIder influences a street lamp. He explains that street lamps are
designed in such a way as to be protected from operating at too high a
voltage, whereby a cut off switch is triggered the moment the voltage
reaches a certain level. The lamp will remain off until reactivated the
following evening. A similar scenario occurs when the voltage drops
below a certain level. Evans puts forward an intriguing theory: that the
“force” at work in SLI operates by affecting the voltage of the
current, most likely by causing a surge in voltage that triggers the
lamp’s internal cut off switch.

“To perform this feat,” he speculates, “SLI would have to be an
electro-dynamic force, somehow generated within or through the human
biological system, and somehow externalised into the neighbouring
environment, where it will act on any appliance which happens to be


  1. Hilary Evans, The SLI Effect: Street Lamp Interference – A Provisional Assessment, Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, 1993.
  2. Hilary Evans, “SLIders: The Mystery of Street Lamp Interference,” Fortean Times, April 2011.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Hilary Evans, The SLI Effect.
  8. Hilary Evans, “SLIders: The Mystery of Street Lamp Interference.”
  9. Hilary Evans, The SLI Effect.
  10. Ibid.
  11. David Derbyshire, “‘Electricity Woman with Amazing Powers’ Causes Lights to Flicker When She Gets Stressed,” Mail Online, 2 February 2008.
  12. Hilary Evans, The SLI Effect.

If you’ve undergone experiences similar to the ones
described in this article, or have ever been targeted by lightning, the
author would like to hear from you via louisproud(at)gmail(dot)com.

This article appears in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 7 No 2 – Paranormal Realities & the Unexplained. Click here to obtain your copy.

Thanks to: http://mysteriousuniverse.org
and: http://www.zengardner.com


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