Rob - I daresay your injuries would be worse without gear at all. Also, there have been significant advances in safety apparel manufacturing in the last 50 years or so.
While I agree with your points about additional training and such, I will still say gear is better than no gear and any gear cannot be considered negligible.
Apparently I misstated my point.
I will never argue against proper gear, but all gear has limitations, and I've always found that not crashing is infinitely preferable to crashing.
What follows is very graphic. Those amongst you who would be disturbed by an up close and very personal description of a major accident involving two motorcyles skip the next paragraph.
You have been warned.
Picture a forearm being hit by the handlebar of an oncoming motorcycle at a total speed of about 60 mph. The Humerus took a shot at 18 Cm from the shoulder joint. It broke, the lower part of which tore through the bicep muscle and radial nerve on it's way out of the rest of the arm, protruding 15Cm. As the arm inside the jacket sleeve unwrapped itself the hand was slingshotted down to be trapped against the engine cases, crushing the 2nd through 5th Metacarpal bones. I was wearing jeans, a heavy leather jacket with no armor, combat boots, leather riding gloves with Metacarpal armor, and a Bell Star helmet.
The other rider died from a depressed skull fracture and subdural haemotoma, or exanguination resulting from a partial traumatic amputation of the left leg 4Cm above the knee joint proximal. He was wearing jeans, a tank top, deck shoes, and no helmet.
No gear made would have mitigated my injuries in the slightest with the possible exception of looking like Iron Man.
On the other hand, gear would have not only saved his
life, if he was wearing knee armor he might have been able to walk away from the accident! Sore, but that would be about all.
1 -- Properly fitted gear appropriate for the weather is very useful not only for the 0.001% (hopefully!) of the time spent crashing, but also for the other 99.999% of the time by making the ride more comfortable and therefore less distracting, freeing up your attention for much more important things.
2 -- ATGATT won't protect you against stupidity, either on your part or someone else's, but your chances of walking away from sliding injuries without a long convalescence or surgery improve significantly. Impact / collision forces are too high and unpredictable to gear for, nor would many be willing to shell out for armor capable of doing so.
3 -- As stated before, the best armor is a thorough ingrained knowledge of riding, all the subtlities of control inputs, and an awareness of your surroundings at all times. You would be amazed how many "Oh crap! Where did that car / dog / sand / meteorite come from?" moments are the result of inattention, not some sort of nefarious automotive plot to get you.
ATGATT is not a state of clothing, it is a state of mind that must include a consciousness of your responsibility for your own safety. Nylon, kevlar, and hardening foam aren't up to the task by themselves.