The book provides the scientific literacy would-be leaders need to challenge ill-informed, partisan advice on science-based issues such as terrorist threats, global warming, the value of manned exploration of space and the dangers of nuclear weapons. With book in hand, candidates and presidents will be able to publicly explain and defend their decisions rather than defer to their science advisors.
He gave one very clear example where basic scientific literacy (we're not talking about having expert-level knowledge here, folks) would have help the current administration.
The need for such advice was demonstrated in 2003, said Muller, when President George W. Bush touted a future hydrogen economy in his State of the Union address, despite the fact that there are many problems with the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel.
"There was nobody there to stop him and say, "No, this isn't going to work,'" Muller said. "I doubt that he knew, for example, that hydrogen is currently made from fossil fuels in a process that emits greenhouse gases, or that liquid hydrogen contains only a quarter the energy of gasoline per gallon, severely limiting an auto's range."
A year later in Bush's State of the Union message, there was no mention of the hydrogen economy, said Muller, who suspects that the president learned some physics in the interim.
One wonders how many other issues that were decided with similar lack-of-knowledge. I haven't read the book yet and will probably try to borrow one. But if you have read it, I'd love to hear a review based on your background.