I can usually tell that the person asking me about this does not want to think about dealing with an attack themselves and is hoping for an easy way out. The main reason I do not support yelling fire is the Bystander Effect.
The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.
Counting on random strangers to rush to your aid means you are assuming people will be present and able to hear you, capable and willing to rush in to help you, and capable of stopping the attacker(s) or causing them to flee. That’s putting a lot of eggs in one basket.
Assuming others will step can also be a means of passing the buck on taking your personal safety into your own hands. People who think I don’t need to be aware or have training because *someone will help me* are not as aware or proactive with getting education and training, and handling the issue themselves if the situation is presented
Even if a good citizen sees a person who is being attacked and the person is yelling fire, there is a disconnect in processing the information. Has a stranger ever confronted you and yelled something absolutely crazy? Yes, they have. And what did you first do when your processed this strange information? You likely hesitated, froze, took an additional second going “huh?” to process what was just said.
Yelling in general: From personal experience in teaching I’ve seen some individuals hit significantly harder when we forced them to yell during force-on-force drills and scenarios. However, when forced to yell, other people clam-up from feeling uncomfortable and insecure to the point where they were not striking effectively during the same drills.
If you hit harder when you yell, scream your heart out! If yelling takes all of your focus and makes you unable to effectively fight back, then don’t bother with it.
Train smart & stay safe,
NOVA Self Defense