I' reasonably well trained in natural sciences and computing. So I usually trust scientists to do their job as well as they can. In medicine, there's a whole bunch of due process before they loose a new procedure or drug on the world, and even if the big Pharma might be a bit dodgy (and most are fine), the process stops rediculous things happening too often (unless politicians get in the loop).
WHen I or a close family member or friend get ill, I do read the literature (the tech. literature, not just online freebie dodgy internet health sites) to figure out what is what - when i spent a week in hospital with metal in my leg, a couple of years after my father died in a hospital from an MRSA infection, I read all the latest papers on that - I didn't find it too hard to catch up and it mattered to me - but I assume, most of the time , that the latest practice is ok....so I don't have to read the 1 paper published per scientist per month in the world (it.d make me, on average, the 2nd reader only on average).
This is true in most areas where there's a large scale deployment of some piece of engineering (planes, trains, automobiles) too.
So even though I could get my head around a lot of the work, I assume I don't have to.
So the consensus on climate change has been fairly overwealmingly behind the anthropgenic global warming explanation, leading to many government initiatives and international schemes to try to get people, society, industry, nations etc to reduce carbon emmissions. Seemed ok to me - the bit I like was the sane stuff which looks at being, simply, more sustainable, anyhow, as that seems like a good way to conduct oneself - not having had a car for 45 years and having got 3 kids to/thru school on bikes- having an efficient house, etc - I feel ok - then I feel like I should carbon offset my flights (I used to do more, but I still, as an academic, go all over the place for project meetings, conferences, PC meetings etc etc etc)....
so now, because of the CRU fiasco (not their fault the email was leaked, but it is there fault the data isn't avaialble and in good clean shape) I now have to read through the mountains of literature on this topic to try to figure out what is sane and what isn't.
You know what is scary? In the 21st century, there is absolutely no way to tell what is authoritative .
I know what/who is serious in my own area. In biomedical area, I can usually guess to some extent. But in this area, it is completely impossible to determine
so not only do I have to read the literature, it looks like I might need to go out, and audit where the data comes from, then get ahold of some of the data, and then do my own analysis.
that is rediculous, but without doing it, I really don't see a way to have any confidence in the statements by AGW proponents, or by climate skeptics.
I am sure most of them are genunine. But none of them has a clue how to instill a sense of public understanding of why we should listen
this does not make me a climate skeptic (not at all) - it just means that for the first time, I'm looking at an entire body of so-called knowledge, and while I can grok the concepts, until I can grep the raw data files, I am basically saying that this is a complete crock!