Despite the shortcomings of thought pieces, media analyses and desk research are important in their own right. They can shed light on aspects previously neglected. They are often rationalist and ultimately hark back to some level of empirical findings, or can be falsified by such.
More generally speaking, debate is crucial to science. Thus, thought pieces render new points of view semi-public. They form part of the history of science. Let us recall that public spheres, salons and clubs of intellectuals, were the first modern scientific social nœuds.
What is more, syntheses bear a different quality than OP-eds. They open our view to new insights, while OP-eds are part of popular science, allowing for science to cross into common media.
More empirical research is indeed needed. However, findings should be contextualized and exceed the use of circumstantial evidence. Where a large statistical base cannot be used, empiricism, which, by the way, becomes historic at some point, does not necessarily champion thought pieces based on values and scientific consensus. Though the latter can and should be criticized.
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
2 September 2020
Link to the Time article: