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Meditation 744
SLI - more psychic nonsense

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About to go out for my morning walk, I was confronted with a half-inch of freshly-fallen snow, so I shovelled instead. While I was shovelling the sidewalk under my street light, the light went out. Not particularly surprising as the sun was coming up, but there are those who would call it SLI - for Street Light Interference - and regard it as a mysterious unexplained phenomenon by which my proximity to the light caused it to go out.

All the street lights had gone out in my block and the next one. Two blocks to the west, the lights were still on. Had I been walking instead of shovelling, those lights two blocks away would have gone out about the same time I reached them (as they did yesterday when I took a walk at about the same time.) Nothing mysterious about it. It is simply the sequence by which the lights get turned off every morning. But those who find this mysterious would call me a SLIder. Because clearly my passing under the lights must be what caused them to go out.

And I've been a SLIder for nearly 50 years.

Back in 1961, in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, I was walking home[1] late at night from the town centre. I passed under a street light - it went out. I thought the bulb must have expired. Then the next one went out when I reached it. That was a bit of a "wtf" moment. And then the third one went out as I got close to it. And then it occured to me that they were turning off the lights for the night. For in those days in England they did not waste money on expensive electricity, particularly after the pubs had closed.

But I can see why someone not prepared to look for a rational explanation in the real world might consider it spooky.

There are dozens of web pages and discussion boards devoted to this SLI phenomenon - street lights going out in sequence[2]as someone passes under them, either walking or in a car. It's identified as due to hidden psychic powers, strong personal auras, force fields, or the greater magnetism exhibited by some individuals. Nobody ever suggests checking with the local public utility department. And apparently, SLI increasing.

And I agree, it probably is increasing.

We expect street lights to go out in the morning, so it's not often that morning events will be attributed to SLI, but we have gotten used to the lights staying on all night. However, the desire to save on energy costs, go green, and/or participation in the dark skies project (to better see starry nights) all are leading many towns and cities to now choose to turn off the lights somewhere between 10pm and midnight. And there are good technical reasons for turning off the lights in a sequence rather than all at once.

More and more towns and cities are turning off their street lights while people are out and about. At least some of those people will be moving around in a way that coincides with part of the shutdown sequence. And at least some of them will be those who look to the supernatural for explanations before they consider reality. Thus, the rate of SLI reporting is increasing.

But, is there any reason to look outside reality for an answer?

Note:

  1. Red Lane Corner - writing this made me check Google Earth to see if the house where I lived 1961/2 was still standing - it is. Lat: 52°21'39.08"N Long: 1°35'49.09"W
  2. Not all reported SLI refers lights going out in sequence. Some people, for example, claim the power over just one particular light which they apparently turn on and off by walking under. But I am quite sure that an examination by a non-credulous investigator will find rational causes.