You'll need to define which version of “empiricism” you mean before anybody can disagree. But clearly personal and individual experience is rather limited compared to experimental method, and when one is talking about how the brain works, it is awfully easy to fool oneself and hard to do double-blind experiments on oneself. (Let alone have n much greater than 1.)
Back when screens were much lower resolution, and LCD-specific strategies didn't exist yet (because they were dependent on LCDs which were not yet predominant), this idea was pretty obviously true. Screen fonts were specific pixel-based things and very different from print fonts. There just weren't enough pixels (and available sub-pixels) to do serif faces properly.
Early screen-font legibility research easily confirmed this.
Resolutions have improved immensely, and so have font rendering techniques. So the idea that sans serif is better for screen, while clearly true 30 years ago, began to change. Unfortunately, the current truth is not nearly as well known as the former truth. Nowadays I doubt anyone seriously familiar with the topic would make any blanket statement of sans serif superiority for screen use. But memes are hard to kill.
I agree that many of the OpenType Panel number features in the latest Illustrator 2017 are broken. No idea when this happened. It affects ordinals, superscript, subscript, and the same formatting when being used to get “Insert Glyph” results (in other words, it can show me a glyph but fails to insert it).
I am not saying that is an exhaustive list of what isn't working, but I didn't see any issues with the other features I tried.