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Phenomenon of Solar street light interference

wellsee / 2011-07-30
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 Phenomenon of Solar street light interference

         Street light interference is an apparent phenomenon, based on claims by many people that they involuntarily, and usually spontaneously, cause street lamps to go out. Generally the effect is intermittent, infrequent and without an immediately discernible sequence of cause and effect. STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE deserves study because it gives the appearance of being an anomalous phenomenon in its own right. That is to say, it appears to be an effect which is not consistent with our current knowledge of how people interact with the physical world, and which occurs in specific circumstances.

what seems most likely to be happening?


Most commentators, confronted with the Street Light Interference phenomenon, look - and rightly - for a straightforward physical explanation. For example, when a sodium (amber) bulb nears the end of its useful life, it may go into an off-and-on sequence:

When one of them starts to "die", it requires more voltage. This will cause the lamp to go off temporarily;

when it cools down, it will come on again for a while. Eventually it will die completely.


This, it was suggested, is sufficient to explain the STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE effect; what happens is that the witness just happens to be passing such a lamp during its death-throes, and is led by the synchronicity to imagine that he is somehow responsible. But as the testimony shows, even if we allow the coincidence in place and time, this effect could account for only a small fraction of the reported cases. For one thing, other types of lamp are involved besides sodium lamps. Then again, only a small number of reports describe anything like an SL going off, then on, then off again. And what about when a witness extinguishes a whole batch of SLs: are we to conclude that the whole batch was purchased together, and so shared the same life-span, and such was the perfection of their manufacture, that they all reached their death-point simultaneously? Yet even if we allow that, there is still the fact that some STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCEders extinguish a row of SLs in sequence, each one going out as the witnesses nears it: it is asking too much to suppose that a series of lamps would have been arranged in order of their life-span.


Street light interference, or STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE, is an alleged anomalous phenomenon where a person seems to turn off (or sometimes on) street lights, or outside building security lights, when passing near them.

Although street lights can turn off by chance, such as high pressure sodium street lights cycling (turning on and off repeatedly) at the end of their life cycle, believers in street light interference tend to claim that it happens to them personally on a regular basis, more frequently than chance would explain. Some propose paranormalexplanations for STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE, sometimes based on scientific terminology, such as the explanation that electrical impulses in their brain interfere with the workings of electric lights. Anecdotes about people's experiences of STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE have been reported by news sources.


STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE has never been demonstrated to occur in a scientific experiment, and those who claim to cause it have been found to be unable to reproduce the effect on demand; they give the explanation that the effect is not within their mental and physical control. Many times they do report, however, that it occurs with specific lamps and not just randomly shutting off street lights or electrical lamps in general.




The skeptical explanation to claims of STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE is to consider it an example of confirmation bias: people are much more likely to notice when a street light near them turns on or off than they are to notice a street light in a steady state. This is compounded by a failure mode of street lights, known as "cycling", in which street lights of the high pressure sodium type turn off and on more frequently at the end of their life cycle. Also, a bizarre personal causal inference, especially in the case of inferring a relationship from one or few instances, is known as magical thinking. A top high pressure sodium engineer at General Electric, quoted by Cecil Adams, summarizes that STREET LIGHT INTERFERENCE is "a combination of coincidence and wishful thinking". Massimo Polidoro notes in Skeptical Inquirer that "Paranormal phenomenon is the least likely possibility."


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