Anyone who references, as Kripal did last night, George P. Hansen's important book The Trickster and the Paranormal with insight and respect demands to be read.
Paraphrasing, and probably badly, a couple of Kripal's points: the way the term paranormal came to replace the term supernatural, and his opinion (one I share) that the sciences for the most part are easier than humanities. Humanities get the bad rap (I studied folklore, I know) but you know, 1 + 1 = 2, and you're either "right" or "wrong" in deconstructing Joyce (depending on the whims of the prof) or defending your philosophical take on what-I-would-do-as-the-only-woman-in-the-class "moral" dilemma presented to us regarding saving family members during a tornado. (Me: I'm "morally bankrupt", according to the barley able to stand upright for more than five minutes philosophy professor. He was so old he knew Noah.)
Kripal isn't just about the humanities and comparative religions, but has had his own experiences that most academics do not discuss, and this includes UFOs. His take on that subject is one I've been harping on for years as well. We'll never get to the scientific answer, because there isn't any. Throwing the UFO realm at the hard sciences -- and those residents of UFO Land who believe UFOlogy should become more "scientific" -- so woefully miss the whole point.
Prof. Jeffrey Kripal of Rice University discussed comparative religions and various aspects of the paranormal. In a sense, the study of religion is more difficult than the sciences because religious experience is difficult to quantify, and challenges people's deepest values and world views, he noted. When people compare religions in a rigorous manner, they recognize that their own world view is filled with certain gaps, he revealed. The ancient Greeks used to send out scouts to foreign cities or countries to study religious spectacles, and they were often changed by what they'd seen. (Coast to Coast)
Anyway. Jeffrey Kripal. Try to listen to the archived interview if you can.