"Sometimes you have to shake the tree and see what falls out" -LA Noire.
The main character is investigating some type of conspiracy. They have no leads. At best they have only a vague idea of who's involved in the conspiracy. Their only course of action is to go around looking for trouble. They start a few fights, break a few fingers, maybe even kill a few henchmen. With any luck they'll find a lead, maybe even get the attention of whoever's behind the conspiracy.
This is Rorschach's primary method of gathering intelligence in Watchmen.
Marv goes around interrogating and killing hitmen in Sin City
in order to get a lead on who killed Goldy
Live Action TV
- A less violent variation in Veronica Mars -- Veronica knows she's looking for a particular gamer at a game club, and knows their gamertag, but not who it belongs to. She finds out the owner of the gamertag by griefing him until he spazzes out.
The main character in Brick resorts to this tactic at one point by starting fights with known drug addicts at his school.
- Inspector Tequila from Stranglehold says he's going to do this at Tai O following the big teahouse shootout with the Golden Kane gang. Not surprisingly, Captain Ed Lee is against it. During the Tai O mission, he ends up blasting up a lot of Golden Kane and blowing a lot of shit up, which actually does get someone's attention -- Mr. Wong, who the Golden Kanes are trying to overthrow with the help of a Russian syndicate and who is actually the Big Bad of the game.
Inspector Tequila: We'd better stop them. I'm heading down to Tai O. I'm going to shake some cages and see what falls out.
Captain Ed Lee: Like hell you will! Tai O's not your turf and you know it! That's an ongoing narcotics probe! We have it under control!
Inspector Tequila: Drug gangs, turf wars, and a dead cop -- and you call that under control?
Captain Ed Lee: Watch your step, Tequila! You go out of bounds, you lose your badge!
A military tactic that can be used when you suspect there are enemies nearby: Have everyone aim in the general direction of what looks like a good enemy hiding places to them, and fire a few shots. Chances are good that they will cause any enemies in hiding to think they have been spotted, causing them to reveal themselves by returning fire.