True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
Doktor Frogg threw himself into the trivial task Voltar burdened him with, spending hours and hours of wasted time in libraries, used book stores, and on the internet. Precious time that could have been better spent in the pursuit of world domination.
At first most of the literature on the subject was useless. A lot of drippy new-age twaddle designed to evoke soothing emotions and coddle the reader. An open mind is one thing, but open it too much and all of one's commonsense and judgment falls out.
Around the time he started thinking that he should report to Voltar that the whole thing was a dead end, he came across more substantial information. Such documents as results from tests conducted by Joseph Banks Rhine, who founded the parapsychology lab at Duke University.
There were also experiments conducted on Uri Gellar at the Stanford Research Institute. Nobel laureate physicist Brian Josephson tested Matthew Manning in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. Respected institutions such as the University in Edinburg, Scotland; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; St. John's University in Jamaica, New York; Lund University in Sweden, and even Princeton University have all participated in some form of parapsychology investigation. Some with very intriguing results.
Still not satisfied, Frogg had to see it for himself. He bought a pack of Zener cards at a metaphysical book store. The man who sold it to him had hair that was too long, a paisley shirt that was too loud, and wore enough patchouly oil to make Frogg gag.
Armed with the cards and a couple of bags of candy purchased at a discount store, Frogg began to conduct his own tests. He invited some of the neighborhood kids to play a "game" then rewarded them each with a piece of candy. He wasn't quite as popular with the local children as Red, so the candy was a bit of a necessity.
After running the tests with Rob, the boy happily accepted the chocolate. As he was tearing open the wrapper he said, "Hey, they're almost done repairing the park's basketball court. Whatta ya say you and Red come over some time and we can do the slam-dunk contest. You never got to finish your turn."
"I'm sure Red will be glad to," said Frogg as he made a few notes on his clip-board. "But I'm going to be busy on a new project for a while." He was not very eager to try that again. The last slam-dunk contest at the park had a whole lot of slam and not enough dunk.
"All right," said the boy. He took a bite of his chocolate, "Just don't tell Voltar about it, okay?" He waved to Red as he walked down the driveway, his yellow jersey with the purple number eleven shining in the afternoon sun.
"Bye Rob," Red waved back from the dying garden he was trying to save. "Tell your folks I said hi."
Frogg was busy with his notes when Voltar's voice startled him. "Don't tell Voltar what?"
"That I'm..." Frogg trailed off as he prepared to lie, "...almost out of chocolate." He gestured to the half empty plastic bag he had set out atop a rickety card table he was using.
"You're bribing them?" Voltar was astonished. He grabbed one of the individually wrapped sweets for himself. "You shouldn't be offering those snot noses rewards. They should be forced into submission. Bent to our will."
"Well, in a perfect world yes," started Frogg. "But in this case, coercion would corrupt the test results."
"Test, what kind of test?" Voltar looked at the cards Frogg had stacked on the table.
"These are Zener cards." Frogg gestured to the small stack of blue cards dotted with tiny white stars. "They are used to measure psychic ability." He turned over the deck and spread it to reveal that there were only five different kinds of cards. A square, a circle, a five pointed star, three wavy lines and a plus sign. "Pull up a chair Voltar, it's your turn."
?" Voltar tried to say with his mouth full of chocolate.
"To be tested. You take a chocolate, you do the test. That's the rule."
Voltar never cared much about following rules. It was his curiosity that led to cooperation. Frogg shuffled the cards, "I'm going to look at each of these cards one at a time. When you get an image or impression of which of the shapes you think it is, tell me." He picked the top card and kept his eyes focused on it. "Let's begin."
Frogg tried to keep his attention on the card but was distracted by grunting and shuffling from across the table. His gaze darted to Voltar. He had his hands to his helmet and appeared to be holding his breath as he trembled with strained effort.
"Uh, Voltar," Frogg said softly, "they say this works best if the subject is relaxed."
Voltar thrust a splayed hand towards Frogg's face. "Don't jam my frequencies Frogg." He squeezed his eyes shut. With his other hand he placed two fingers to his forehead. "I'm getting something. It's coming to me. It's....it's....A STAR!"
Frogg set the card face down, picked up another and said, "Next."
"Well," said Voltar with slightly annoyed expectation.
"Well, what?" Frogg returned.
"Did I get it right or not?"
"No results are to be revealed until the end of the test."
"Oh all right," a disgruntled Voltar sighed. "Let's get on with it then." The two of them continued on. Voltar strained and posed while Frogg silently placed each "read" card onto one of two stacks. One stack for the hits, the other for missed.
"How did I do?" Voltar asked eagerly once the test was completed.
"Just a minute." Frogg counted the cards from one stack, then the other. He picked up his clipboard and scribbled a bit. "The test results reveal that you are a null-hypothesis."
"Did you hear that Red?" Voltar called triumphantly to his burly minion. "Docktor Frogg says that I am a null-hypothesis." Red flashed Voltar a smiling thumbs up then went back to tending his pitiful garden. "So what does that mean, anyway?" Voltar asked of the scientist.
"No psychic ability," he replied as he studied his notes from the clipboard.
Later that evening Doktor Frogg emerged from his room and just stood at the doorway of the living-room. Voltar had been watching some bizarre television program featuring wrestling slugs while Red and Doomageddon played tug of war. The two of them happily lurching back and forth with a chewed up piece of leather that used to be somebody's shoe. Frogg hesitated there a few moments before Voltar noticed and muted the volume of the television set.
"I'm um," Frogg shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "I'm ready to make a report."
"Better get a knife and fork, Red. Doktor Frogg's about to eat some crow." Voltar grinned.
"All right I admit it," Frogg crossed his arms in front of himself. He continued a bit defensively, "It looks as though there might be something to all this psychic phenomena stuff."
"Ha! Told you," gloated Voltar. "Now that you've cleared up any muddled misconceptions you've had, you can move onto the next phase."
"What next phase?"
Voltar shook his head disappointedly. "Oh Frogg, you should know this better than I do. It's research, then development, and finally application. Don't you remember? The whole point was to have a super-psychic member in the League."
"Voltar, do you really think that would be an asset, or are you just on some kind of kick?"
"Of course it's an asset. Moving things telekinetically. Obtaining important information with mind reading. Don't you see?"
"If you want something moved it's more efficient to just get up and do so physically. And if I really need information from someone, there's always torture."
"But it's not as cool." Voltar protested.
"Torture is very cool," he disagreed, "as long as it isn't inflicted on me." Frogg realized he couldn't change Voltar's mind with that line of argument. "Besides, we don't have a good candidate."
"Candidate?" Red paused from play-roughhousing with Doomie. "Is it an election year already?"
"Candidate as in test subject or volunteer." Frogg clarified.
"Or," Voltar smiled as he savored the word, "Victim."
"Perhaps..." mused Frogg. The 'V' word stirred in him more interest in the prospect. "The obstacle though, is finding someone with enough psychic ability to make it worth boosting. As far as using one of us, well that's out of the question. You," he indicated towards his leader, "have no psychic ability whatsoever. Red does, but it's only marginal."
"How about you, Frogg?" Red suggested.
"That isn't feasible," he answered. "The way the tests are conducted, it's impossible to perform one on one's-self . Aside from that I'm pretty sure that I'm about as psychic as a doorknob."
"So if we could find someone with enough psychic power it could be done?" asked Voltar.
"Theoretically, yes. In some of the earlier experiments, psionic ability has been enhanced through hypnosis. Alpha waves seem to have a stimulating effect on the areas of the brain engaged in psychic activity. A very slow process, unless..." Frogg's eyes wandered away from his allies as he became more focused on his thoughts. "A device could be designed to electronically synchronize the subjects brain-waves. It would be quicker and more effective."
"Then get busy building that brain-wave thingy-bobber-jigger and use it on whoever you tested that got the best results." Voltar suggested flippantly.
Thingy-bobber-jigger! Frogg sighed, "That's no good either. Most of the test subjects were neighborhood kids and even the highest scoring of them wasn't nearly enough."
"Then we'll find someone more suitable." Voltar returned.
"Don't ask me to hang around any more of those metaphysical book stores. If one more middle-aged hippie tells me I need to cleanse my aura, I'm gonna lose it!" Frogg spun his claws in agitation.
"Leave that to me. I'll think of something."
"Even so, what makes you think this person would co-operate?"
"That's easy enough. Use mind control," offered Voltar.
"No good. Mind control works by inhibiting brain function, specifically the frontal lobe. That would also shut down psionic activity. Unless..." Frogg lifted a claw to his chin-cup and gazed off in contemplation, "... the brain-wave synchronizer could be adjusted to draw the subject into deeper states." He began to pace. "Then post hypnotic suggestion could be used." Frogg started towards his room, "Why, this could even prove to be most effective for brainwashing."
His companions knew that the last few sentences were not in conversation. Frogg was thinking out loud again. Once he was out of sight Red said, "Well, there he goes."
Voltar smiled with satisfaction. "Just throw enough ideas at him and he's off and running." Just then a sinister, maniacal laugh came from Frogg's laboratory. "Yep, like flipping a switch."