The “when” is also important. The main danger is that the timid or beginning investor will enter the market at a time of extreme exuberance and then become disillusioned when paper losses occur. (remember the late Barton Biggs’s observation: “A bull market is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.”) The antidote to that kind of mistiming is for an investor to accumulate shares over a long period and never sell when the news is bad and stocks are well off their highs. Following those rules, the “know-nothing” investor who both diversifies and keeps costs minimal is virtually certain to get satisfactory results.