Nicky Hager's latest book, released this week, sparked a lot of discussion, writes Andrew Dickens.

Nicky Hager, a self proclaimed advocacy journalist, released a book this week expanding on the work done by Jon Stephensen into the actions of our SAS in Afghanistan.

We've all heard the story, an alleged retaliation attack by our forces, that led to civilians being killed.  It was followed by a report that said they weren't and the New Zealand Defence Force backing that report.

The book claims to have 20 sources involved with the operation, who are prepared to say the report was wrong and so Nicky Hager called for an inquiry.

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What was remarkable was the reaction to Nicky Hager in the first few hours of the book's release.

Mike Hosking interviewed Nicky but added that he doesn't like Hager and therefore doesn't believe him. Leighton said pretty much the same thing. Then followed the most extraordinary few hours of talkback where everyone talked about Hager and not about his claims. Despite having never read the 120 page book, the majority of callers were prepared to dismiss it just because Hager had written it.

All that changed later that afternoon when the Defence Minister of the time, Wayne Mapp came out and said there may be some truth to it and the whole operation was a disaster. All of sudden people like Matthew Hooton, Jordan Williams and Larry Williams were on the radio saying we might want to look at this more closely.

This isn't the first time Hager has been attacked like this - but bear in mind, he's never been done for defamation. You'd think someone would be willing to put their money where their mouth is if he's really wrong.

Here's the thing: The world has become so polarised that people no longer hear what's being said.  They make their judgement purely on who said it.  And this is global.  The "you're either for us or against us" is the new normal.

The world has become so polarised that people no longer hear what's being said. They make their judgement purely on who said it. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The world has become so polarised that people no longer hear what's being said. They make their judgement purely on who said it. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In the United States there are people who so hate Donald Trump that they won't hear the valid points he makes and the concerns of the people he represents. And vice versa.  Obama is not - and never has been - the devil incarnate. In the UK there are as many people wanting to leave the European Union as want to stay.

There appears to me to be too many people these days, who when their side win, would like the side who lose to just disappear. Even though we all have to live in the world together.  That's not good for democracy.

At its essence: The world has forgotten how to listen and everyone is in their own little echo chamber, astounded that the world doesn't think like them. Protecting the right of free speech is also being required to listen.

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