Businessweek recently had an article on Consumer Reports and how they “dared” take on Steve Jobs and the problem-ridden iPhone 4. While the article itself was interesting, it was the bit about how Consumer Reports came about that intrigued me most.

Back in the midst of the depression the 1930’s no one trusted banks, a fact borne out by the nation’s love of notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde. This truly scared the nation’s elite business people as they thought that consumers would have no faith in their products or services anymore. And then this upstart organization called Consumers Union began independently testing products like Alka-Seltzer and breakfast cereals to see if the makers’ claims were truly valid. Results were published in a magazine called Consumers Union Reports, now renamed Consumer Reports.

The concept that big business could possibly be wrong was truly considered unAmerican at the time. Readers Digest, one of the biggest magazines of the time, literally called the organization members dangerous subversives. Good Housekeeping told its readers that Consumers Union was extending the Depression. Coincidentally, those two magazines relied on big business advertising for their revenues while Consumers Union has never accepted advertising ever.

Of course, today it’s easy to find unbiased or pretty much unbiased reviews of products and services. But the powers that be, using the media, still lull people into a sense of “not questioning”. The entire Iraq war, still going on at this writing, is a classic example. I have yet to hear anyone explain to me why we had to invade at all, or why we are still there. Claims of weapons of mass destruction or Iraq being a threat to America were proven false. Yet most Americans associate the Iraq war with “defending our country”. It’s just media spin.

This is why understanding both your flow and the flow blockages of things around you is so important. It’s easy to get sucked in by claims (“Asbestos is safe”, “Doctors approve of cigarettes”, etc.) that can appear unimpeachable on the surface but are, in reality, the exact opposite. This goes double during this recession, where no one wants to hear any bad news about any product or service they invest in. But such “ignorance” is extremely detrimental.