I think that none can argue but that Bob's scientific approach as a student of our pastime of cue sports is beyond reproach. I agree with you, Bob, that Shaun (or his university guy) is barking up the wrong tree here. I have for a long time been of the opinion that kicks are a result of the materials that we use in the construct of our equipment, specifically, the cloth.
If you consider golf, balls had previously been made of various materials such as wood and gutta percha before evolving to their current design. Clubs underwent (indeed, continue to undergo) various changes such as original hickory shafts into modern composition designs and everything else the eggheads have managed to come up with. Even the grass has been genetically engineered to be able to keep it manicured shorter and faster, and recover quicker from divots and damage. But even so, golf is still played on grass after all.
For the cue sports, the balls, cues, and rubber cushions have largely evolved and are nothing like their original incarnation. On the other hand, as far as I know, the green baize has always been the green baize. Of course, they have improved the manufacturing process--current methods mean a finer, lighter, even shaved cloth for professional play--but in essence, the surface is still the same as it has always been: a cloth covered smooth(?), flat(?) surface.
I submit that on a macroscopic level (looking through the eyes of a human being), the surface appears flat and smooth. However, on a microscopic level (say, looking through the eyes of an ant or some such), the cloth surface obviously has tremendous variations. Much like the difference between driving on a smooth concrete surface of an indoor garage versus jaunting along on an old gravel road, we believe our cue ball is rolling (or often sliding) smoothly when in fact it is bouncing (on a microscopic level) along the rough surface of the cloth. And the cloth will act like a trampoline when the cue ball passes over thicker and thinner areas because the individual threads within the weave will have variation in diameter and density.
The cloth is a very elastic surface. We just had a situation at our club where a ball arbitrarily and untouched fell into a pocket when it had been balanced on the edge from a previous shot. This type of situation is usually caused by cloth motion when a player places or removes his hand from the table surface and can happen over a surprisingly long distance of several feet.
You can often see in the slow motion video of a kick how the cue ball "climbs up" the object ball which can only logically be the result of the cue ball equator line striking above the object ball equator line. In my personal experience, true kicks seem to occur significantly most often when using follow, less often when using center ball, and least often when using draw.
I think the kick is an inherent part of the game and is here to stay unless the powers that be wish to introduce radically different equipment in an effort to eliminate the kick. Anyone who would like to experiment with this can try out the equipment shown below and get back to me with your results
Edit: I have read through Shaun's article several times now and have come to realize that he does in fact lay much of the onus on the cloth and its manufacturing process. He may be onto something with the heaters....I have never played on a heated table myself.....as a TRUE kick is few and far between in my club. (I think he is also spot on in that most players do not properly distinguish between "bad contact" and "kick".) I guess where I differ with his article is that he appears to believe that it is in fact possible to come up with a perfect materials combination to prevent the kick. Myself, I believe the kick will always be a part of the game as it is just inherent in the materials no matter how refined they may be. (Again, to the golf analogy, grass will always be grass and the putting surface will never be "perfect" unless it is changed to marble or some more predictable material for the roll, but of course, such a drastic change opens many other cans of worms.....could you stick an approach shot on a marble putting green?)