Street Light Interference Syndrome

When 38-year-old Debbie Wolf is stressed out or thinking deeply about something that troubles her, electrical devices around her often stop working. "Experts" call this "Street Light Interference Syndrome" (SLI). Those who suffer from this problem are SLIders. At least, that's the term paranormal-author Hilary Evans coined. The Daily Mail reports:

"It has never been full on whammy all day, but it happens frequently, such as when I'm excited."
Miss Wolf says she once blew a series of street lamps while riding by on a motorbike.
And she uses a wind-up alarm clock because her reaction on waking up in the morning "scrambles" digital ones.

The Daily Mail tested her powers by sitting her alongside a flashlight, mobile phone, and a radio, and asking her to make them stop working. Predictably, her presence had no effect on the devices.

Debbie Wolf explained that "she has to be in the right mood for her powers to work." I figured she would say that. It's the amazing power of cognitive dissonance at work.


Posted on Tue Feb 05, 2008


I have to admit... I think Im a SLIder... And once they go out, if Im sitting at stop-lights I sit there and try to make them come back on - 9 times out of 10, they flicker back on...
Posted by Puck  on  Tue Feb 05, 2008  at  02:54 PM
That is so stupid. It's kind of funny what people believe these days.
Posted by Katsu  in  Pennsylvania  on  Tue Feb 05, 2008  at  02:55 PM
All sodium streetlights turn off and back on by themselves. People only remember the few times they turn off in their presense, not the thousands of times they don't.
Posted by Tommy  on  Tue Feb 05, 2008  at  03:13 PM
I think I have "Sun Intereference Syndrome" (SIS). When I get in a certain kind of mood, the sun disappears and it gets dark outside. Then, after I calm down (usually several hours later), the sun reappears in another part of the sky.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Stephenville, Texas  on  Tue Feb 05, 2008  at  08:50 PM
I mean, "Sun Interference Syndrome." My SIS must also interfere with my keyboard. red face
Posted by Big Gary  in  Stephenville, Texas  on  Tue Feb 05, 2008  at  08:52 PM
Sounds like an ability mastered by Chuck Norris. I hear he can make dead butterflies come to life too.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Feb 05, 2008  at  11:07 PM
The Daily Mail experiment is stupid (what a shocker - stupidity from the Daily Mail). She tells them the lights go out when she's stressed or excited, so they ask her to sit still and calm and try to do it - and it doesn't work! It's like asking a conducter to conduct an orchestra whilst sitting down, with no baton, and wearing earmuffs. I'm not saying she's lying or telling the truth, I'm just saying that trying to measure an emotional response, like this or telepathy under strictly controlled laboratory conditions is pointless. You can't provoke an extreme emotional response in a lab.

Still, at least the Daily Mail didn't blame immigrants or single mothers this time.
Posted by Nona  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  06:10 AM
You can't provoke an extreme emotional response in a lab.

Wanna bet?
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  06:25 AM
I think it's more confirmation bias than cognitive dissonance. After all, dissonance causes a rise in the levels of emotional stress, making her ability more likely to manifest.
Posted by David B.  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  11:02 AM
Many years ago (funny how often I say that)I did a lot of driving. There was one intersection where the traffic light turned red upon my approach regardless of what time I approached it, nor what direction I approached from. I started keeping track after noticing the frequency that it happened. After sixty times in a row, I think it was, where it happened I quit keeping track and gave up. I can't prove it since I threw the notebook away in disgust, but for what it's worth, there is my tale of woe.

Somewhat related, if you think about it, I'm sure you can remember someone who has trouble with technological items or is real good with them. A friend of mine has trouble with can openers. I have known people, when I was working as an electronics technician, who had equipment start working when near them. Not many, but it does happen. There may be something to this story.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  11:31 AM
David B is right.
Selective memory and confirmation bias are more accurate explanations than cognitive dissonance.
Posted by JoeDaJuggler  in  St. Louis, MO  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  08:23 PM
My Dad, who was an appliance repairman for Westinghouse, used to say that machines will refuse to work for people who don't like them.

He wasn't entirely serious, just so you know.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Feb 07, 2008  at  01:58 AM
CMG, that's just what machine-lovers claim. We all know that the truth is that even though machines pretend they'll only work for you if you're nice to them, they really respond best to a firm hand. That's why percussive engineering works.
Posted by outeast  on  Thu Feb 07, 2008  at  02:01 AM
I used to have this problem intermittintly with computers (I started getting a reputation; even my lab mate blamed me when his computer was on the fritz) but the strangest thing was my watch. Like clockwork, less than a year after I had gotten a watch it would stop working; putting in a new battery wouldn't work. One watch repairman asked me what I was doing with the watch accusingly, saying that it was all corroded.
This hasn't happened since I've been put on antiseizure meds though.
Posted by Teppi  in  North Cackylaky  on  Thu Feb 07, 2008  at  05:51 PM
You had a problem with your watch that occured like clockwork? The problem would have been solved with a digital watch -- no clockwork involved, there.
Posted by D. Esker  on  Fri Feb 08, 2008  at  09:19 AM
I disagree with that, both I and my parents are SLIders. I have done it a million times. I do agree that a lot of current accaounts of SLI are hoaxes. my proof is I did it but 30 mins. ago, by will.
Posted by LEE  in  Anywhere there is a street lamp.  on  Mon Feb 07, 2011  at  11:25 PM
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