Sorry, allow me to clarify:
I didn't apply to Yale, so I don't have a personal stake in this beyond interest in the process. And I did not mean to indicate that I myself thought that Yale's approach to apps was "holier than thou," I was simply referring to what anyone--even someone in the yale admissions office--would have to agree is a popular impression of yale's admit process. I wholeheartedly accept that Y's normal delay is the unavoidable product of their more thorough process, and I am sure that any additional delay is likely the product of equally unavoidable circumstances. Cleary, it serves no benefit to the school to intentionally delay the admit process. I'm simply pointing out that people do get a little miffed when they apply in September, and haven't heard anything resembling a personal response for over 6 months (Form-letters and emails don't count, and initial caveats that most don't hear until february and march don't help either when some do, in fact, hear before the new year). As a result, the popular impression of a school changes when people (even those who have been accepted) here it being bad-mouthed by their friends whose apps are still pending.
Likewise, I'm sure the other schools bad-mouthing YLS, has had an effect, but that's their prerogative (plus, that sort of thing tends to come back and bite them in the a** later on). I do think, though, that if Yale has this admissions process that takes signifcantly longer than other schools, it has to acknowledge the additional strife it puts its applicants through. Whatever the cause, it's still unpleasant on this end. (and for the vast majority that don't get it, it's no comfort that the process results in a more favorable class.)
2) In re: LSN's popularity, I don't know if that has an effect, since the pool of acceptees we're talking about is the same now as it was last year. And while none of last year's 40+ self-identified acceptees withdrew, this year, of the same number of S-I acceptees (40+), 6 claim to have withdrawn so far. As for the fakes on LSN, who knows? It's equally possible that there were the fakes last year.
Alternatively, the answer to my initial question may just be "no."