Chuck did not say you had to enter into these peoples shoes - just to train/meet with them and judge them on the level of their Aikido.
I don't think he is deflecting your question but instead giving you a basic truth. It is pretty clear from your posts that you wish to judge - he is saying (sorry Chuck if I I mis-paraphrase) is that there are so many variables that it is like comparing apples to oranges. Stories on the web have no relevance - training on the mat does.
I have only slightly more experience on this earth than Chuck has in Aikido - I always read what he says carefully. Don't have to agree with it(most times I do) but playing lawyer is not the way to go.
In the East a 16 year old asks a 60 year old what life is all about.
In the West a 16 year old tells the 60 year old what like is all about.
By the way I entered Honbu with no kyu rank, I left just under three years with Shodan. People with 20 years of Aikido have asked me to teach classes - not from what's on paper but because of the little I know.