Four people have sent me links to this research in the last 24 hours. It claims that:
there are two kinds of people: those who can push symbols around without concern for their "meaning" (or lack of it), and those who can't;
the former can learn how to program, while the latter will always struggle with it; and
a simple test can determine which group someone falls into.
I first came across this work in February, while taking Steve Easterbrook's course on empirical methods in software engineering. The original version had been basted in sarcasm and breaded with scorn; it was entertaining to read, but I was sceptical about both the methodology and the conclusions. The current version isn't quite as much fun, but makes the case more strongly. Steve and some local grad students are going to try to reproduce the experiment locally this fall; I'm very eager to see the results.