On the birthday of Jesus Christ – who was clearly a very nice guy, giant sky wizard issues aside – I can think of no better bible reading than this, Daniel 1:8, a description of the first ever clinical trial.
Daniel and his people have been dragged off to the court of king Nebuchadnezzar, to be in the king’s army, and the eunuch has said that they must eat the king’s rations, which are meat and other rich food, to make them strong. Daniel disagrees: he would rather eat vegetables, and he thinks that his people will be just as healthy on this diet.
8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
So there you go: the research question was identified, a trial was designed, conducted, and the results were implemented in policy. Although to be fair the project was probably underpowered.
Thanks for a fun year, and see you in 2010. Merry Xmas!