Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Publication Date



Arts and Humanities


The James Lind Library, an online repository of documents pertaining to the history and design of the clinical trial, records a number of cases in which a critic of the institution of medicine challenges the profession to a test of rival treatments. It was in this spirit that Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753) dared physicians to test their treatments for smallpox against his favored remedy, tar-water, under similar conditions. Like several other proposed trials of which we have a record, the tournament envisioned by Berkeley never took place. In the year of Berkeley’s death, however, the world learned of an actual test of rival treatments under controlled conditions that had gone unreported and therefore unnoticed for half a decade.


The final version of record will be available at the journal website.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License