Recently I saw a corporate TV advertisement for the American television network ABC. It showed brief shots of people in other countries—France, Japan, Russia and so on. These people were doing all kinds of things, but they weren't watching television. Americans, the commentary told us, watch more TV than any of these people. Yet America is the richest, most innovative, most productive nation on the planet. ‘A coincidence’, concluded the wry, confident voice, ‘we don't think so’.
Bryan Appleyard is a journalist and cultural commentator who writes regularly for, among other publications, The Sunday Times. He is the author of a number of books including Understanding the Present (Picador, 1992) and Brave New Worlds: Genetics and the Human Experience (Harper Collins, 1999), which was highly commended in the BMA Medical Book Competition.