However this is circular, really just stating that you take external appearance to indicate the skill in application, which I dispute as an ideal measure. B.
I didn't say that. I said nothing of application, just proper technique. Now, I will say that good technique is one indicator of application potential of an individual's technique, but not the determining factor.
I have seen people who perform their kata well and cannot apply its techniques and principles. However, I have never met a karateman with what I would consider poor technique be good at applying their technique on me with any skill short of simply being a brawler/street fighter. And you don't need karate for that. But I don't know, what you consider a crappy technique and what I consider a crappy technique may be two very different things.