Midweek Cuckoo: SLIders
Have you ever driven under a street light and noticed it turn on or off at the exact moment you passed it? Did you think at the time ‘Holy PK, Batman! I have some mysterious power to affect street lamps!’
Then you might just be a SLIder.
Street Light (or Lamp) Interference is supposedly the phenomenon whereby a human being is capable of turning street lights on and off without conscious intent, by mere virtue of their physical proximity. Those affected by this phenomenon call themselves “SLIders”.
The term was coined by Hilary Evans in his book The SLI Effect, a 55-page PDF which you can read for free courtesy of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), of which Evans is a founding member. Since then, many a website has sprung up to describe the phenomenon and its potential study. About.com describes it as “a psychic event that is just beginning to be recognised and studied”. It even says that Dr. Richard Wiseman has begun a study into the SLI phenomenon! Books? Studies? It must be real!
Of course, what the article doesn’t mention is that Dr. Richard Wiseman is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. Professor Wiseman is enormously interested in the quirks of human psychology, and his other studies have included an experiment to find the world’s funniest joke, the psychology of luck, the science of lying, and the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Personally, I think he’s uniquely equipped to get to the bottom of the Street Light Interference phenomenon. In fact, I can almost certainly predict the results:
Street Light Interference is in fact the phenomenon caused when a particularly naive and self-involved person (called a SLIder) passes beneath a street lamp that has a photosensor which is being activated by their headlights, or coincidentally passes beneath a sodium lamp undergoing an end-of-life behaviour known as cycling, where it overheats, turns itself off, and then turns back on again once cool, repeating this cycle every few minutes. This person naturally assumes, by virtue of having absolutely no curiosity whatsoever as to the way in which the lamps actually work, that they possess a unique and extraordinary gift that allows them to affect the electronics of street lights.
But whether or not SLI is a real phenomenon is irrelevant, because I’m sure there is a bigger issue at hand. I’ve noticed that when I approach certain entrances, the doors open as I approach and close as I leave! And it’s not just me, millions of others have reported this exact same phenomenon! Explain that, skeptics!