A week or so of experimenting later, I had a simple, reproducible experiment that demonstrated that their explanation was wrong.
The concept is simple. According to Veritasium, positive ions come out in the water, while negative ones are withheld. This means that in an electrically isolated system, the first water out should be positive, while the reservoir at the top becomes increasingly negatively charged. However ultimately that water must come out too, and when it does, it should be strongly repelled by the charged object. In reality, that doesnt happen, indeed if anything its more strongly attracted, although this is probably due to the last water out moving more slowly. Either way its a pretty clear experiment for showing that the ions do not move back up into the tap as Veritasium suggests.
Stunningly there is actually some quite recent stuff on this in the literature (last 10 yrs or so), although Im not so sure I believe any of it.
Y'see showing something to be wrong is usually just the first stage in science.... you then gotta show you know whats going on by proposing a model that works.
In the week or two of experimenting I did, I got enough clear results to show everything is wrong! I have no coherent explanation that merely explains the obtained results, let alone one that can be used to predict unknowns.
FYI, the cones at the end are called Taylor cones and are the core of electrospray which got someone a Nobel Prize in chemistry!
Kinda makes it even more weird that its so hard to come up with a fully coherent explanation of why a stream of water is deflected by a charged object.
-Simple things don't always have simple explanations!
Kelvin dropper has to be seen to be believed!
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