I think while Jean has quite a few misconceptions of his own, his antagonists also fall prey to this, though maybe not as much.
In both cases the misconceptions come from the experiences, level of understanding and training experienced by those involved. Please remember folks that the results of one's training is a direct result of the goals that one has towards training and the means one employs to get there. "Aikido" in no way is a homogeneous thing with many methods of approach and instruction even within the founder himself. From my experience folks often take a snapshot of Ueshiba M.'s life to define his Aikido (and by extension "what Aikido should be") instead of looking at his entire life's training and understanding how that helped develop his Aikido over time.
Regarding the initial point of the thread-
Is it wise to say to new members at an Aikido club that by learning Aikido you will be able to take-on much larger attackers (or multiple attackers)? "In general," might saying this give a false confidence to the average Aikidoka?
It depends a lot on the skill and teaching level of the particular instructor to deliver on his promises if he makes the claim imo. He/she must have thorough knowledge of what is really involved in taking on multiple and larger attackers in real life and offer consistently effective Aikido-based methods that allow the weaker/smaller person to come out on top every time. This should include of course evasion and awareness training and options of not getting into these situations to start with. Obtaining this degree of understanding in order to teach it comes from well outside the Aikido training paradigm imo and enters the realm of human psychology, body mechanics, awareness, positioning, observation training etc. etc.
Personally I think this can be misleading to a beginner if he thinks he can achieve this in a few weeks of casual practice, but for the student who is serious about achieving these goals and is constantly vigilant to various means of getting there (outside of dojo training) it is very obtainable.
Imo it should be obvious to the beginner that if he is unable to do these things in the dojo with resistant Uke he has almost no hope of doing it with a serious attacker for real. Overconfidence and misleading only appears when the dojo culture starts acting as if the technique done in the dojo during cooperative or low resistance free practice in some way is representative of reality. It's all in how you perceive the goal and results of certain types of training. For those who practice "kata-only" Aikido I think the stated goal is even less obtainable since kata alone does not build one's skill level in spontaneous application of technique, which is what is required for real world defence.
Aikido can never have a sparring component like Judo or BJJ without sacrificing much of what it is. (cue shudothugs).
I think this is a gross misconception and generalisation. It depends on what you perceive Aikido to be. If one understands the concept of Aiki in itself (i.e. not allowing oneself to become fettered by the set definition of any particular institution) the "sparring" done in Judo, BJJ etc. is merely one step above what even traditional Aikido schools practice as randori or jiyu waza, with the difference being the free will to resist and counter technique on both sides. If it does not "look" like "Aikido" then this is a testament to the quality of Aikido (or lack thereof) being executed, not a definition of what Aikido is not.
Can Aikido teach one to defend oneself in all
possible self defence situations? No imo.
Can application of the tactical and strategic paradigms embodied in the concept of Aiki teach one to defend oneself in all possible self defence situations? Yes imo.
Are these conceptual paradigms learnt in Aikido dojo training. Yes imo.
So I guess I agree with Jean to a point regarding the "framework" concept, but I also agree with the others as well regarding what is truly involved in dealing with attacks in the real world, which is not addressed in many Aikido dojo ime. The fact is, not many Aikido instructors globally have much experience or training in that area or teach in a manner that brings real effectiveness to someone who seeks to achieve the aforementioned goals. As such, if those types made the claims presented at the beginning of the thread it would in fact be misleading to beginners.
Maybe it's just me, but I see no dichotomy in being a highly skilled technician of Aikido to the point of effective multi/larger attacker self defence while embodying Ueshiba M.'s philosophy of peace and protection of all life. It just calls for a very high standard of spontaneous Aiki and serious dedication to correct
training. I don't think the multi-attacker practice and kuzushi concepts embodied in Aikido are there just to be played with as a fun game, but provides the core concepts from which one can understand how to apply the concepts which should encompass situations such as real life attacks - physical or otherwise.
Just my thoughts.