It's interesting how there are things that we know instinctively and we think that they are just a gut feeling without much empirical evidence to support it, whereas in fact we know these things unconsciously, we know them without knowing why.
I have always found tattoos repugnant but I didn't attach importance to this feeling, one way or the other.
I then read several years ago Theodore Dalrymple's great book Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) , which I recommend, where he recounts and describes his experiences as a prison doctor, among other things. In it he says that a disproportionate number of prison inmates have tattoos.
So there was something after all in my dislike for these mixtures between body graffiti and self-harm.
In all the intervening years since my reading that the fashion of tattoos has spread a lot, especially among the young.
And now I have just read that the practice of tattoos is associated with many unhealthy and antisocial behaviours, including suicide, aggressive and/or delinquent behaviour, can be psychologically addictive and can lead to infections, according to scientific studies. Research on adolescents has shown a correlation between tattooing and living in a single-parent household, lower socio-economic status, high risk behaviours, substance abuse, violence, sexual behaviour, school problems, eating disorders.
The fact that tattoos have become increasingly fashionable is part of the "dumbing down" trend especially in teenagers and young adults, the tendency to do one's worst instead of one's best, to try to emulate the lower or even criminal classes, in language, music (or rather cacophony), intellectual pursuits or lack thereof, street fashion, and the like.
This also shows that our gut instincts, although they should not be blindly followed, should at least not be discarded without some thought because there is an adaptive value in them, as psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer explains in Reckoning With Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) .