The steadiness of Bernie Madoff’s returns were both the lure to reel in unsophisticated investors and the biggest red flag to scare away sophisticated ones. It’s not surprising: steadiness is always used as a positive adjective, but it shouldn’t be.
Consider the common notion that a healthy heart “beats like a metronome”. That’s incorrect.
This NYT piece from 2001 explains:
If you were to ask people, ‘Would you rather have a heart that beats irregularly or a heart that beats like a metronome?,’ everyone would say they want a heart that beats like a metronome,” said Dr. Daniel Levy, the director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study. The study, which began in 1948, has followed more than 10,000 residents of Framingham, Mass., collecting information on their health and heart disease. But the data from the Framingham study and others consistently show that the more regularly a person’s heart beats, the greater the risk for heart disease.
At the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dr. Lauer likes to illustrate this to medical students when they visit the cardiology ward there. ”We go into the room of a very sick patient,” he said, ”and I’ll say, ‘What was that patient’s heart rate yesterday?’ ” The students will look at the chart and give an answer, say 121 beats per minute. Then Dr. Lauer will ask them to take the patient’s pulse. Invariably, the heart rate will be the same 121 beats per minute.
”But if we go into the room of someone who’s relatively healthy,” he went on, ”the heart rate will be bouncing around.”
As economist and fitness buff Art De Vany explains, chaos is the “rhythm of life itself.”