The "Nifty Fifty" is a perfect example where back in the 50's and 60's if you invested in the (I think) top 50 companies in the US then "nothing could go wrong." Of course, if you invested in 1965, then you would have had to wait until Reagan started turning the economy and market around in 1983 to break even.
Such a fear, a prolonged spell of 0 or perhaps negative returns haunts the baby boomers as they're approaching and some entering retirement. Used to the roughly 12% annual returns stocks provided over the past 20 years (driven primarily by them flooding the market with their retirement dollars), if such a spell were to hit now, their entire retirement plan would fly out the window.
Thus, it was an honorable chart says I when I happened upon this little ditty a couple days ago.
Have you switched to fixed income yet?