Old wives tales

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Old wives tales are wise-sounding ideas passed on from one trusted person to another even though they are not true. The classic example is that the "common cold" is caused by exposure to cold weather: "You'll catch your death of cold" (used as a plot point in Pride and Prejudice). The idea that giving children sweets makes them hyperactive stems from parents leaping to the conclusion that the excitement children display at birthday parties is caused by eating cake, ice cream and other sweets; turns out they're excited by the games and the presence of other children.