Another bone of contention among paranormal investigators is the act of provocation. Provoking is an attempt to anger or rile up the spirits into interacting with an investigator. The contention lies in the necessity of provocation; what good does it do, really?
First, most of us investigate residential claims. If a resident has reached out to you for help, it means that they are likely in a difficult situation. Many of my clients have expressed the need for secrecy, they haven’t talked to their local minister or priest for fear of ridicule. They may not talk to their neighbors for the same reasons. They repeatedly say, “I am not crazy.” If the resident is in a most desperate situation the last thing you want to do is make the situation worse by angering a spirit.
Second, they have called you for *help.* Angering the unknown is rarely helpful. I can think of only one situation where it may help: exorcism. If a spirit is hiding and needs to be vanquished, to be completely rid of, erased from this plane, then perhaps calling it out would be in the best interest of the resident. If you are there simply to capture evidence and then leave, tormenting a spirit that will, in turn, torment your client serves no good purpose.
Third, television shows tend not to air residential episodes for a variety of reasons- the resident may not consent, they want their identities completely hidden, etc. I always ask clients how they want us to help; do they want us to simply confirm their own findings? Do they want us to try and rid them of the spirit? Do they just want more information? Most want whatever it is gone, at least until I ask if we find out it’s a relative haunting them if they still want it gone. The answers to these inquiries make it easier to determine if provocation is a good idea and most of the time it isn’t.
Furthermore, think of the situation the spirit’s point of view. If a stranger walked into your house, and you are confused about what’s going on in your house, who all these people are (the new residents and the investigators) would you really want someone storming in and to begin yelling at you? Can you really pick a fight with something that you don’t know or understand? At the very least, you should try to gather information about the person (or thing) that you are dealing with before deciding whether yelling at it is completely necessary. What if the spirit is the family’s kindly grandmother who has done nothing but been helpful (and perhaps frightened the family a bit)? You really want to feel good about yourself by yelling at grandma?
So why do those television guys do it? First, and foremost, ratings. No one wants to watch a polite chat with a wall. Second, they don’t have to suffer the consequences of their actions. If they make things worse, they’re long gone and hard to contact before anyone realizes it. Third, they are usually in public spaces and not private residences.
Now, if you are in a more public place, you have been invited by a park ranger, docent, librarian, provocation has many less repercussions. Lately, more and more places are perfectly okay with being considered haunted as it makes for more income. Furthermore, businesses have hours of operation, which usually means during peak paranormal times (usually thought to be 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.) there is no one there. The chances of activity becoming noticeably worse through provocation are lessened in a business simply because there is only a small window to notice activity in the first place.