The algorithms used in EnCAB come from a variety of sources which come from a wide range of contexts, geographical, chronological and cultural. Thus there is an assumption being made about the universality of the data behind the algorithms which should be discussed explicitly.
First, the algorithms are based on the quantification of very specific actions -- as such, the assumption of universality is not one tied specifically to cultural traits but to physical ability. Clearly genetics (and their differences across geography and time) and, indirectly, some cultural aspects, play a role in calculating that physical ability.
Second, the results of the algorithms are given in absolute units, but such results can also be used to compare two structures; such a comparison means that the numeric result of the algorithms can serve as a basis for a relative comparison between the two, leaving aside the actual results themselves. As an example, if the mudbricks used to build structure 1 required 15,000 person-hours, and the mudbricks used to build structure 2 required 30,000 person-hours, the argument can be made that the energy required to make the bricks for structure 2 was double that of structure 1 since the same algorithm was used to calculate both - and that this result holds true even if the precise number of person-hours given by the algorithm is called into question.
Finally, there are three methods by which the universality of the algorithms can be tested: source overlap, parallel algorithms and calculation of MAD as % of the mean.
eg. Earthen Transport
Ethnographic: Coles 1973, 95
Textual: Heimpel 2009, 83 & 250
Experimental Archaeology: Abrams 1994, 43-47
Unbaked mudbrick weight in:
Buccellati 2016, 109 (bricks from excavation -- 1 m3 weighs 1502 kg)
Buccellati 2016, 108 (bricks from experiment -- 1 m3 weighs 1392 kg)
Unbaked mudbrick weight in: Buccellati 2016, 109 (bricks from excavation -- 1 m3 weighs 1502 kg) Buccellati 2016, 108 (bricks from experiment -- 1 m3 weighs 1392 kg)
Mean absolute deviation: 55 Which is 3.8% of mean