>I realize that research papers can be frustrating because all the methods and computations are not immediately visible
This is not scientific research, the basis for scientific investigation is REPEAT-ability of the results, otherwise it is not a scientific procedure. The purpose of an axiomatic formal system and proof procedure is to repeat the inferences again and again.
> I place some trust that the researchers aren’t leading us astray.
Almost no one shares your optimism and trust in this field of science, the research is monetized to deliver biased results to aid some special interest group's interests, tenures and grants and prizes and consulting positions and media coverage are bestowed solely upon those who push the biases. Look at Canadian government firing their own climate scientists for doing honest research! Many research firms are terminating those who are not lined along the **party lines**.
The only scientist alive today we could trust is Prof. John Baez and why I am here, I consider all these papers and claims suspect.
I believe in human history that only one or very few stand up and finally cause a huge change, not the masses, and I believe John is doing that and I believe he will succeed.