I don’t know how Anna Krylov manages to sustain a successful career as an accomplished and honored theoretical and quantum chemist at the University of Southern California—while at the same time turning out long and thoughtful pieces that attack the ruination of science by the Authoritarian Left. She was, for example, the main author of the multiauthored piece “In Defense of Merit in Science,” although she charitably allowed the authors to appear in alphabetical order (I was one). As sole author, in 2021 she published “The Peril of Politicizing Science” in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, her first shot across the bow.
Anna continues to post on the Heterodox Academy and Heterodox STEM websites, and now has partnered again with Jay Tanzman—a freelance academic statistician—to defend science against ideological rot. The article on Heterodox STEM below (click to read) is informed by Anna’s experience growing up in the repressive Soviet Union, and compares how speech was repressed by her government and how it’s being repressed by Authoritarian Left Science Bigwigs. (She doesn’t pretend that science in America is the equivalent of Soviet science, but there are telling parallels.)
But the main difference between this article and the others by her and Tanzman is that this one puts a positive spin on our dire times, telling STEM people how to fight the Critical Social Justice termites in our house, termites that should be reserved for politics and not allowed to eat away at science.
This is a long piece, but it reads well, is amply illustrated with Soviet examples of repression, has lots of references, and, most of all, will hearten those of you who hate what’s happening to STEM but haven’t spoken up about it.
First, Krylov and Tanzman (henceforth K&T) diagnoses the problem:
Free speech itself, the cornerstone of liberal democracy, is under attack. As viewed by CSJ activists, free speech is dangerous, harmful, and equivalent to violence . Adherents of DEI ideology believe that DEI should trump academic freedom . Institutions essential for providing a platform for the marketplace of ideas, information exchange, and debate have largely abandoned their mission in the name of social justice activism. Articles in the press are infused with CSJ ideology . Scientific publishers from Scientific American to the flagship journals Science and Nature have become mouthpieces for CSJ [43–56]. Universities, whose primary mission is education and truth seeking, have become complicit in censorship, scholarship suppression, indoctrination, and intimidation [57–59]. Universities and professional organizations have compromised their mission as seekers and communicators of objective truths by abandoning traditional institutional neutrality in favor of political activism, taking official positions on elections, police reform, abortion, wars, and other social issues [60,61], leaving dissenters out in the cold.
. . . What we are witnessing today—curriculum “decolonization,” the elimination of honors classes in schools, the ubiquitous war on merit , the imposition of political litmus tests for academic positions, Newspeak, the renaming of everything in sight, and on and on—are not isolated excesses perpetrated by a handful of overly zealous but otherwise well-meaning individuals; they are symptoms of a wholesale takeover of our institutions by an illiberal movement that currently has the upper hand. The current situation is not a pendulum that has swung too far and will self-correct ; it is a train hurtling full speed toward a cliff. Those of us unwillingly to go over the edge can either jump off—leave academia (or maybe start up alternative institutions)—or fight to get the brakes applied before it is too late. The remainder of this chapter is about the latter course of action.
The rest of the paper involves giving the reasons we should fight this incursion (the answer is simple: “because it is the right thing to do”). K&T also say it’s exhilarating and empowering, though I have to admit that there are times when battling this nonsense is dispiriting, particularly when you get called names like “racist” or “transphobe”.
A few more reasons:
The choice to fight in the face of potential consequences is personal  and not an easy one to make. But as you contemplate whether to act or to lay low, consider the importance of truth and integrity in your life. To paraphrase Bari Weiss: Worship truth more than Yale. As she says:
[D]o not lose sight of what is essential. Professional prestige is not essential. Being popular is not essential. Getting your child into an elite preschool is not essential. Doing the right thing is essential. Telling the truth is essential. Protecting your kids is essential. 
Sure, no one wants to become a martyr for free speech or experience bullying, ostracism, and professional damage [81,91–93]. Cancel culture is real, but the risks are not what dissenters to totalitarian regimes faced historically or face today—cancel culture does not put you in jail. One still can write a dissenting op-ed without the fear of being stripped of their citizenship and expelled from the country, as Solzhenitsyn was for his writings . We still can criticize DEI policies without fear of being put under house arrest, as Sakharov was for his vocal opposition to nuclear weapons and his unwavering defense of human rights . But if we delay, some of the totalitarian nightmares of the past may become a reality. There are already worrying signs of this totalitarian-style repression in America: parents opposing CSJ in schools have been accused of terrorism and investigated by the FBI ; a journalist who wrote about collusion between the government and social media was paid a surprise home visit by the Internal Revenue Service ; a student who questioned the concept of microaggressions  at a mandatory training was expelled and forced to “seek to psychological services” . These incidents in America today are chillingly similar to practices in Russia in the Soviet era, when the KGB routinely investigated dissidents, and dissent from Soviet ideology was considered a psychiatric disorder [84,88]. In the absence of resistance, this illiberal movement, like illiberal movements of the past, will gain ever more power, and we will face ever worse repression and erosion of individual freedom.
And then K&T proceed to the main part of their piece, offering up tips on how to fight. I’ll just list them in their own words:
1. Educate yourself; knowledge is power.
To effectively counter the ideology of CSJ, it is crucial to understand its nature and the tactics it employs. As two-time Nobel Laureate Marie Sklodowska-Curie said:
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so we may fear less.
2. Use all existing means of resistance, but first and foremost, the official ones.
Mechanisms of resistance are available through existing institutions, even if the institutions themselves are failing to protect their mission . These mechanisms can be exploited to change the institution from within.
3. Don’t play their game: You can’t win.
We are trained to seek compromises and solutions that bring different groups on board; we seek consensus. That is a fine approach under normal circumstances, when all agents are acting in good faith. But we must recognize that we are up against agents who are driven—knowingly or unknowingly—by an ideology whose goal is to take over the institution. Every compromise with them brings them closer to their goal [1,3,74,98,123]. Therefore, we must stand our ground.
4. Focus on truth, not partisanship. Do not fear verbal attacks.
When you take on CSJ, there is something you will need to come to terms with: you are going to be called names, and your views and beliefs are going to be distorted and misrepresented. These are standard tactics of the CSJ movement. Since the adherents of CSJ have adopted an ideological, rather than a rational, worldview, they cannot rationally defend it; so they use the only tools they have: personal attacks and strawman arguments. They will call you transphobe, racist, misogynist, alt-right, Nazi, etc., no matter what you say or do. They will use deliberate misrepresentation of your expressions to subvert and discredit them . They will use the “Motte and Bailey” trick  to derail conversations. Learn about these tactics so that you can anticipate, recognize, and counter them .
#4 is probably the hardest thing to do, as it involves having enough self-confidence to fight against nonsense, knowing your opponents won’t answer you with rational arguments but with name-calling. Fortunately, having written this website for 14 years, I’m pretty inured to that (you should see some of the insulting comments I leave unposted).
More important advice:
5. Do not apologize.
We cannot stress this enough. Your apology will be taken as a sign of weakness and will not absolve you—in fact, it will make matters worse. Apologies to the illiberal mob are like drops of blood in the water to a pack of sharks. Additionally, your apology can be interpreted as an admission of guilt, which can come back to haunt you in the event you need to defend yourself legally or in an administrative proceeding.
6. Build a community and a network.
Communities and networks provide moral support and there is safety in numbers. Some groups already exist. The Heterodox Academy (HxA), for example, provides a platform to organize communities (e.g., HxSTEM is a community of STEM faculty) and to connect with colleagues who are open to reasoned debate,
Remember, scientists who oppose the incursion of illiberal ideology into their fields outnumber those scientists who are vociferous advocates of CSJ. The vociferous minority wins because it demonizes and ridicules the opposition, as well as assuming the mantle of moral probity. Stick up for those who are wrongly demonized and don’t be afraid to speak up when you see nonsense. You may lose the battle, but it’s the only way to win the war.
Will we succeed? Will we stop the train before it goes over the cliff? We do not know what will happen if we fight. But we know what will happen if we don’t. The task ahead might look impossible. But remember the USSR. It looked like an unbreakable power, yet in the end it collapsed like a house of cards. The Berlin Wall looked indestructible, yet it came down overnight. Recalling his 20 years’ experience in the gay marriage debate, Jonathan Rauch told us: “I can tell you that the wall of received opinion is sturdy and impenetrable…until it isn’t. And that it’s the quiet people in the room who are the swing vote…. and please illegitimi non carborundum .”
We are not helpless. We have agency and we should not be afraid to exercise it. We should fight not just because it is the right thing to do, but because fighting brings results. If we behave as if we were living in a totalitarian society, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m not as optimistic as K&T, but I am willing to do something to stop the rot (e.g. this website, and my paper with Luana Maroja in Skeptical Inquirer). DO NOT DO NOTHING!
In honor of the first sentence of K&T’s penultimate paragraph, here’s an old song from Steve Still’s best solo album:
The front cover photo was taken by photographer Henry Diltz during a snowy September morning outside Stills’ cabin in Colorado. The pink giraffe on the cover is thought to be a secret message to one of his girlfriends, specifically Rita Coolidge who had just left him for Graham Nash, which was one of the contributing factors for the demise of CSNY.