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One stupid mistake is all it takes

by on
in HR Management,Human Resources

John Strugnell, a brilliant biblical scholar, was one of the original experts brought in to reconstruct and translate the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was also a professor of Christian Origins at Harvard.

But in 1990, he gave an interview that changed his life. He said of Judaism, “It’s a horrible religion … a Christian heresy … .”

Afterward, he tried to explain his comments and put them in context. But the damage was done. He was thrown off the scrolls project and asked to leave Harvard. When he died in November 2007, even his obituary in The New York Times carried the headline, “John Strugnell Dies at 77; Scholar Undone by His Slur.”

The lesson? A few ill-considered words are all it takes to destroy a career.

— Adapted from “John Strugnell Dies at 77; Scholar Undone by His Slur,” John Noble Wilford, The New York Times.

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