Kamala Harris, vice president of Kamala Harris again makes misleading statements concerning human trafficking In a speech to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Harris—who has a long history of dishonesty about sex trafficking—said that “in 2020 alone, there were 11,000 instances of human trafficking that were reported in the United States.”
Harris where did he get this figure? Calls to the Polaris Project’s national hotline for human trafficking, an indication of the misleading statistics I have warned about for many years. Politicians and media routinely refer to Polaris numbers as if these accurately represent human trafficking instances (a category which includes forced prostitution, forced labor and other categories), and push for all manner of policies. But the large numbers Polaris puts out are not—thank goodness—verified cases of abuse and criminal activity; they’re jusr a tally of contacts to the hotline. This includes cranks and pranksters as well as people who report seeing consensual sexual work.
This is refreshing and rare to hear major media outlets acknowledge it. The Washington PostGlenn Kessler, the editor of’s Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin did this in a column last Wednesday. Kessler calls out both Harris and Virginia’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, who in a recent executive order stated that “according to Polaris…there were 179 cases of trafficking and seventy-seven traffickers identified in Virginia in 2019 alone.”
Kessler—who has previously tackled other false or misleading claims about human trafficking—points out that the Polaris numbers are mostly anecdotal:
These figures are derived from an analysis that Polaris performed on calls made to its National Human Trafficking Hotline. The Department of Health and Human Services spent $4 million on the operation of the Hotline in the fiscal year 2021, according to documents submitted to Congress. This hotline receives texts, emails and chats as well as calls and text messages. When staff respond to calls and other inquires, they identify elements such as fraud, force, or coercion, that is considered human trafficking.
According to HHS, the hotline identified 11,193 possible cases of trafficking and responded to 13,129 signal from victims. It also reported 3,353 cases.
Notice that these are “potential cases”—and only about 30 percent ended up being reported to law enforcement. The budget document also notes that “viral misinformation about human trafficking”—such as “complex schemes involving child sex trafficking”—led to a surge of a “well-intended but inaccurate, secondhand reports” that distracted from helping real victims.
You may have missed the point above. Only about one third of potential cases are ever reported by Polaris to law enforcement. It is not known how many are prompted by the police to open investigations, or what they uncover.
Polaris prefers to appear like the tip off the iceberg. Since not all trafficking cases will be reported, While it is true that not every trafficking gets to Polaris’ attention; however, its numbers reflect many other things than human trafficking.
The group—and those citing it—also like to tout an increase in contact with the hotline as evidence that this problem is getting worse. The increase in calls, and other contact comes as states and the federal government require more businesses to display the number prominently.
It’s important to note that the FBI trafficking figures, as compiled from various police agencies across the nation, are significantly lower than those gathered by the Polaris hotline.
“For 2019, in Virginia, the FBI reports that there were 41 incidents of human trafficking—and 29 cases led to arrests, including one for a person under the age of 18. Kessler notes that this is much less than the 189 cases reported by Polaris.
The FBI also reported that there were 1,883 human trafficking incidents in all of the country in 2019. 1,607 of these were classified as commercial sex acts and 274 cases of voluntary servitude. Harris only cited about one fifth of these instances.
In this instance, the term “incidents” does not mean trafficking incidents. Police simply started an investigation to investigate possible trafficking. Of the 1,883 incidents reported to the FBI, only a fraction led to arrests—684 adults arrested and 24 minors. Arrests do not always mean someone is charged or convicted of trafficking.
Although misleading statistics regarding human trafficking may not appear to be very harmful, they can have a significant impact on your life. Falsely presenting the extent of the problem can lead to all kinds of personal and political harms. You create the environment for insane conspiracy theories, such as those associated with QAnon followers. It also causes ordinary people panic over everyday interactions and “stranger threat.” This leads to the desire to Do! Something! These often lead to crackdowns against poor people, sex workers and immigrants. This gives the government cover they need to increase surveillance and police force on everyone.
Neil Young misinformation about scienceNeil Young decided to remove his Spotify music because the platform doesn’t do enough to stop Joe Rogan spreading misinformation regarding vaccines. But Young has done his own misinformation-mongering, Louis Anslow points out at The Daily Beast. See Young’s 2015 Anti-Biotechnology Album. The Monsanto Years:
Young’s anti GMO rhetoric was a catalyst for fear and distrust surrounding COVID vaccines. Many of these COVID vaccines used new biotechnology methods, some use genetic engineering.
Progressives have a common amnesia about the past actions of the left in pandering against anti-biotechnology movements. Reactionary luddism—especially around biotechnology—was both politically correct and convenient for progressive celebrity activists. However, that was the “before time.”
Young supported anti-GMO movements even though evidence increased that genetically engineered foods were safe.
The anti-GMO movement—which rose to prominence in the mid 1990s and early 2000s—attained a key legislative win in 2014 when Vermont mandated GMO labeling of food….
The new Vermont law threatened to be a pointless and impractical nightmare for food manufacturers, so trade groups sued the state….As the case garnered coverage, the anti-GMO crowd was re-energized once more. Neil Young was quick to seize the opportunity and released “The Monsanto Years” as well as embarking on an eponymous tour. One pre-show press conference was held with Vermont’s former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and Young both pledge $100,000 for the defense of the GMO labeling laws.
California’s net neutrality law is an option.
9th Cir. California can impose net neutrality laws on broadband internet services it provides to Californians. https://t.co/Z2Tb3PynAE pic.twitter.com/Xvll7zqlKf
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) January 28, 2022
Look! There are reasonsHere is more information about Net Neutrality. You can read more about the California case right here.
IRS facial scans being reconsidered.A Treasury Department official stated Friday that the Internal Revenue Service is reevaluating its reliance upon facial recognition software ID.me to access its website. This was amid scrutiny over the company’s image collection, which includes images from tens and millions of Americans. Bloomberg News reports.
Check out the Roundup from Monday for additional information about ID.me by IRS.
“What are we seeing right now is the response of a left-wing power grab. And — guess what? — it’s a right-wing power grab. There are two forms of illiberalism in war. As an alternative, the liberal option remains.”https://t.co/WSelEsHNHl
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) January 28, 2022
• Book bans are back in vogue—and more politicized than ever, school officials say.
• “A federal judge on Friday blocked a Texas law barring government entities from doing business with contractors that participated in boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activity from being enforced against a Palestinian-American contractor, saying that the law infringed on the contractor’s First Amendment rights,” reports The Hill.
• NPR explores how an overactive immune system may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease—and how understanding that could lead to new treatments.
• Adam Thierer rounds up skeptical takes on expansive industrial policy:
“Skeptical Looks at Expansive #IndustrialPolicy Efforts” https://t.co/b49p59L1yb
[* A regularly updated compendium. New additions from @EricBoehm87, @ENBrown, myself, others. Please suggest other relevant essays I may have missed.]
— Adam Thierer (@AdamThierer) January 30, 2022